Hares can often be seen hopping through the Royal Agricultural University’s picturesque six-acre vineyard at Down Ampney near Cirencester. Here, the south-facing slopes bear various vines, including Ortega and a small amount of Bacchus, Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc. These grape varieties are blended together to create an award-winning white wine. The vineyard was taken over by the university in 2016, and gives students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the wine production process, from grape to bottle. They learn about vineyard management, grape varieties, wine production, marketing and finances before helping with the grape harvest.

Their Story

Cotswold Hills wine is produced by the Royal Agricultural University Farms, grown on a sunny south-facing slope of the Cotswold Hills near Cirencester.  The vineyard was planted in 2010 with Ortega, Bacchus, Chardonnay and Seyval grape varieties and is leased from Farmcare Trading Ltd. 

Our award-winning Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme provides an inspiring and supportive environment in which our students can share, develop and launch their ideas. Guided by lawyers, insurers, marketing professionals and accountants, students from all courses and years have the chance to realise their aspirations in a professional and rewarding environment. In addition, £1 from every bottle of Cotswold Hills sold goes into the RAU Enterprise Programme to help support RAU students wanting to start their own businesses.

The RAU became just the sixth university to be made a Centre of Excellence by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE), awarded for leading-edge enterprise practice and for making the development of students’ entrepreneurial skills a priority. Students have developed a range of businesses including a farm safety app, pre-organic solutions for the food sector, a tourism company, and fashionable eye-wear.

Master of Wine Susan McCraith and alumnus winemaker Steve Brooksbank were both involved in the project.