Grapes have been grown in England since the the Bronze Age, but it was the Romans that have been credited with bringing viticulture to Britannia. Some of the Roman villas in the south of Britannia generally had some of their land cultivated with vines which produced wine for their own consumption.
After the Norman invasion in 1066 French monks started building monasteries. As the monks needed wine for their sacraments and medicinal purposes they planted vines on suitable land that had been allocated to them. So for three hundred years, until the Black Death decimated the population, wine making was an integral part of monastic life. Vines were also beginning to be grown on the manorial estates and this continued beyond the dissolution of the monasteries.
A new era of English vineyards began to flourish after the Second World War when Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones planted three acres of Seyve Villard at Hambledon in Hampshire. As Broadhalfpenny Down, the birthplace of the national game of cricket, was nearby Sir Guy depicted on his wine label the cricket stumps and bat.
By 1986 there were over three hundred vineyards ranging from Yorkshire in the north to the Isle of White in the south. Today there are four hundred and thirty in the United Kingdom with the most northerly being situated near Durham.