A Vintage Year : The vineyards of France , Italy and Portugal enjoyed excellent weather in 1961 the year that Ashby Wine Circle was formed.
Exploring the history of the wine circle will uncover the founder William (Bill ) Pratt who was Adult Tutor of the Community College. The group was formed with a dozen members during an inaugural meeting at Ivanhoe School on 19 October, 1961.
Mr. Pratt was appointed Chairman and although no longer a member he attended the 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations.
When the group was in its infancy, it turned to similar organisations in Nottingham and Birmingham for guidance as none of its members knew much about wine making. They soon grew in confidence, however, and within two years they had set up an annual show. Usually held in March, at its height an average of 500 bottles of wine were produced, by members, for the show. They would be judged and prizes awarded.
Membership fluctuated between twenty and thirty but a nucleus of knowledgeable experts were was forming.. During the annual shows, which were held in Blackfordby Village Hall, an evening dinner would be followed by the presentation of trophies for almost thirty different classes of wines, liquor and even beer.
The first non-local trophy to be won by a member was the Solihull Salver by Noreen Perry and was awarded the accolade in 1970. Noreen became a national wine judge. Holly Ward, on writing a history of the wine circle in 1973 said “She took Ashby Wine Circle to bigger and brighter events and record membership” Noreen is still a member and celebrated her 93rd birthday in July.
Other outstanding wine making members include Len Beniston, Ron Wagstaff, Roland Hill, Alan Poyser, Derek Gutberlet and Graham Venables.
The 50th anniversary was celebrated in October, 2011 at The Lyric Rooms when over seventy members, past and present, attended!
Ashby Wine Circle meets on the second Wednesday of each month at Brown Court, Atkinson Road, Ashby.
New members very welcome. For further details contact 01530 224030.