Fancy a glass of local vino? In celebration of English Wine Week last week, the sunshine, glorious countryside and home-grown tipples – now that’s what a better way to support by heading to these fabulous local wineries for an explore or to quaff a bottle (or two)! We are right in the peak season of when vineyards open their cellar doors in the months of May through to September, so it’s a perfect time to visit – who needs a European wine road trip when we have so many on our doorstep!
Did you know that the site of one of the UK’s largest vineyards sits proud was once the site of chicken sheds? Hattingley Valley is now home to one of the UK’s largest vineyards. Since its opening in 2008, this purpose-built eco-friendly winery has been using traditional methods of taking grape to glass and collecting an impressive number of accolades and awards along the way. Tours involve a great behind-the-scenes look at the production process and a generous tasting session, so come thirsty (and with a designated driver). Feeling generous or needing an idea for a gift – why not purchase a gift voucher for an experience for a loved one?
Blackdown Ridge Estate sits at 440 feet above sea level in the Sussex Weald, enjoying extraordinary views over the South Downs National Park with vines planted to take advantage of the superb location and conditions – resulting in a fine English wine! What sets them apart from the rest is their tour which genuinely can only be described as a ‘two hour holiday’. It’s well worth a visit to be, if anything, but inspired by this quant family run vineyard excluding harmony and balance burgeoning the English wine industry.
One of the newest and smallest wineries in our vineyard spotlight but this certainly doesn’t detract from the beauty of the countryside nor the knowledge of this family-run vineyard. A leisurely walk through the vines; intuitive insights into the history and wine industry; and samples of aqua vitae – are just some of the highlights that await visitors on their tour. A lovely addition to the tour experience is to add a picnic hamper which can be enjoyed amongst the ground of the vineyard.
Upon arrival at RAIMES, a boutique vineyard awaits exploration where the team are proud to have created a range of award-winning English sparkling wines that would easily rival the produce of European rivals. The vineyards are nestled near Alresford within a beautiful 1800 acre traditional family farm, home to Augusta and Robert who are the fifth generation of the family to farm here. The team hosts both daytime and evening tours, but if a tour isn’t your thing, and you fancy something more spontaneous, why not visit their Summer Courtyard for a tasting flight with nibbles – and you can even bring your four-legged friends!
Established back in 1952, in a quintessentially English patch of Hampshire known as ‘the cradle of cricket, Hambledon Vineyard puts itself on the map as England’s oldest vineyard. Following the return of Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones from France to his birth region, he was inspired to plant the first vines and profit from the terroir-esque land. The team have since created a state-of-the-art, fully gravity-fed winery – the only one in the UK – producing award-winning sparking drops with minimal intervention. Tour the vines and chalk cellars here, then finish with an all-important tasting of some pretty special sparklers.
If you can’t manage to get along to a vineyard for a tour this summer – you can definitely enjoy a bottle of plonk at home amongst friends and purchase from a local stockist; À votre santé! It is so great to see an independent business like this thrive in the community for so long, local people are extremely grateful for the expertise and service that our local wine shops provide. Two that stick out amongst the crowd are the teams at Hawkins Bros and The General Wine Company.
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