Since 1962 the family business has been here on the Canwell Estate. Starting out with farming, they then moved on to growing vegetables.
The next steps were opening a small florists which eventually expanded into a large wholesale business, Excelsior Dried Flowers.
Buzzards Valley is a place with an evolutionary past that flourishes through the determination of family. Located at the edge of Birmingham, it was taken on by Ivan Jones and his wife, Pat Jones, in the early 1960’s. They started out as arable and dairy farmers. The dairy side of the business was initially highly successful, until a cattle disease called ‘foot and mouth’ abruptly broke out and caused them to have to put the milk machines away, sell the cows, and find a new purpose for the farm.
Despite these challenges, the Jones family continued to grow potatoes, cabbages and onions. As an addition to this, they started cutting the allium flowers off the onions and selling them at a local agricultural show. They were selling so fast, that Ivan had to keep on going back home to cut more! The huge admiration for the flowers showed how much potential they could have in the business.
So, after this realisation, a couple of the family members studied floristry to enhance their knowledge on the growing and the drying of flowers, and before they knew it, the farm expanded the variety of flowers it was selling, and their company ‘Excelsior Dried Flowers’ was born. This certainly made Buzzards Valley stand out from the rural crowd.
With the intention of diversifying Buzzards Valley’s range of product even further, Ivan decided that they would be planting 4,000 poplar trees, digging six lakes for leisure purposes, and establishing a vineyard. Though the development of these projects mostly happened after Ivan passed away in 2007, he still managed to see the completion of his most beloved ambition out of the three, the vineyards, and taste his own wine.
“Working here is like an adventure- it’s full of surprises” says Tom, who has worked at Buzzards Valley for quite some time and spends most of his days here. Of course, running a place as versatile as this has its challenges, but he explains how he loves coming to work every morning not knowing what he will be doing that day.
Since 2001, the family, along with the help of good friends, have been perfecting their wine to provide the local community with the most exquisite tastes. Continuing Ivan’s legacy and offering a range of signature reds, whites, sparkling wine and rosé, the people at Buzzards Valley have certainly worked hard to deliver a diversity of products bursting with beautiful aromas and astonishing flavours. Whether you appreciate a sweet wine or a dry, a fruity and floral or a more earthy and spicy one, Buzzards Valley is the place to try if you want to support a small, eco-friendly family run business!
The fisheries were also another part of this enriching project. Six lakes were dug out by a professional and are now the home of multiple fish breeds, including Japanese koi carp. Buzzards Valley is now one of the most idyllic places to go to in Staffordshire, as it has delightful areas to take a stroll, or to perch your seat up by the lake and fish. It is just the perfect haven, concealed by woodlands and nature, for members of the public to escape to.
Meanwhile, as demands at Excelsior Dried Flowers increased, they have had to widen their horizon and start “sourcing from countries such as Holland and Spain, and even India for the more exotic flowers” says Rich, who has worked at Excelsior since 1995. They have also expanded their range of products, and this was when it transformed into Excelsior Wholesale. Excelsior Wholesale is still thriving today, selling via trade only with terms and conditions. They continue to sell dried flowers, but now also offer silk flowers and interior products, providing for people such as prop masters from the film industries.
With all the activities and facilities that they now accommodate, Buzzards Valley has become an English countryside charm- taking a trip here is like a mini holiday. To get here, you must travel down a picturesque country lane and once you have arrived, it is as though the lane you have just travelled through was a portal to the south of France. The Jones family have worked hard to transport their customers to the tasteful wonders of Western Europe, having a wide variety of German and French grapes at the vineyard. With Buzzards Valley being full of surprises, this is certainly one of the things that amazes people the most. It is a reminder that England can have places as blissful and as striking as this. Buzzards Valley is certainly a place that brings pride and joy back into our countryside.
Their tours are also an event that is filled with surprises. You will learn so much about the distinctive, eco-friendly ways the wine is made here, that you will come away appreciating more about what planet earth has to offer. You get to learn about what a typical year here at Buzzards Valley Vineyard looks like, such as what processes are used throughout the seasons to produce their signature wines.
You get to discover winter at the vineyard with its crisp, fresh air. And understand spring here when everything feels new and revived, and the vines are ready for another momentous year. You get to learn about summer when the vineyard is at its climax, the grapes are luscious, and the vines are vibrant and green. And finally, you will get an impression of what autumn is like here at the vineyard, when they are ready for harvest, and when the wine making process begins.
Most importantly, you get to support a local, family run business, who are doing their bit for the planet, aiming to become entirely self-sufficient, whilst producing the tastiest of British wines here in England and the best of experiences to enrich the community. “We don’t use chemicals; we use natural products. Everything is done on site from start to finish,” says Leon, Ivan’s Son who now owns and runs Buzzards Valley alongside his sister, Yvonne. “Traditional methods are what makes our wine,” and “this makes our wine a definite zero carbon product.”
Vineyard tours are held the first Friday of each month, there is also a monthly artisan market taking place every second Sunday from March to December.The giftshop is open every day, including bank holidays, all year round, except from national holidays such as Christmas day. The shop offers many products such as chocolates and truffles, jams and chutneys, things for the home, giftware, gin and of course, the iconic Buzzards Valley wine. The beautiful landscapes of the valley are also open to the public, so that people can enjoy the marvels of the woodlands and lakes. If you wanted to go further and bring your fishing kit up here, you can also pay to spend a day fishing at the lakes.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bag, grab a loved one or come solo, and see the Valley and its beauty for yourself! And don’t forget to taste the wine while doing so!