Vineyards are recorded at 45 places in Domesday Book, 32 of these in Great Domesday, all in south-eastern England. All these vineyards were in the hands of Normans or the great abbeys.
It was once thought that the vine was re-introduced into England by the Normans after an absence of almost 700 years following the departure of the Romans. But this is no longer accepted. Vineyards can be documented from the eighth century onwards. What is certainly the case, however, it that there was a significant increase in their number after 1066. Not one of the vineyards in Domesday Book was clearly in existence before that date, and several of them are categorically stated to be new.
As with other appurtenances, there were probably more vineyards in existence in 1086 than Domesday records. By the early twelfth century vines were certainly cultivated where none are mentioned in Domesday. Henry of Huntingdon, for instance, claims that Winchester 'was rich in wine', and William of Malmesbury that the wine of the vale of Gloucester was 'abundant and of good quality' (Henry of Huntingdon. Historian Anglorum, edited by Diana Greenway (1996), page 21; Gesta pontificum, edited by N.E.S.A. Hamilton (1870), pages 291-92). No vineyards are recorded in Domesday in either Hampshire or Gloucestershire.
At some point in the following centuries viniculture all but disappeared in England. Whether this was due to deteriorating climatic conditions or to the acquisition of Gascony and its superb wines is unclear.
For more detail, see H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977); and E.M. Carus-Wilson, Medieval merchant venturers (second edition, 1967).