When searching for that special bottle of wine, the ‘Great Britain’ section isn’t always the first place one would think to look. Did you know however, that the British wine trade is currently booming, with Britain scooping up an impressive 120 medals in the rather prestigious International wine challenge 2016 (a notable increase from the 94 they received in 2015) and that there are some 500 vineyards across England and Wales?
We are currently in the middle of English Wine Week (May 27-June 4), so to honour this celebration let’s take a look at just a few of the Great British Wineries:
1) Camel Valley, Cornwall
Established in 1989 by ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie, Camel Valley winery not only produces some of Britain’s finest wines, it is also stunningly beautiful, set in a fantastic panoramic location – high on the slopes of the valley, overlooking vineyards surrounded by glorious countryside. Camel Valley also offer wine tours and tastings, guided tours, and if you fancy a relaxing break in peaceful Cornwall they also offer accommodation in the form of holiday cottages. For more information on the award winning winery, take a look at their website here.
2) Nyetimber, West Sussex
The first vines at the Nyetimber Winery were planted back in 1988. Owner and Chief Executive Eric Heerema, and winemaker Cherie Spriggs are committed to producing wines of a Grande Marque standard. Each bottle of Nyetimber is crafted from one hundred percent of estate-grown grapes. This commitment to excellence caused quite a stir in 2012, when Cherie Spriggs declared that as a result of the quality of grapes not meeting her high standards, she would not be bottling a vintage for that year. Today the Nyetimber house is considered as one of England’s finest wine producers. For more information on this prestigious winery, see here.
3) Glyndŵr, Cowbridge, South Wales
Founded in 1979 by Richard and Susan Norris, The Glyndŵr is the oldest and largest established Winery in Wales. set in the Vale of Glamorgan, a mile from Cowbridge, Glyndŵr has since established a fine collection of Welsh wines: fruity whites, a vintage sparkling and an oak-aged red.
As well as offering vineyard tours with lunch, they also host weddings and special events, offer accommodation and their adjoining beautiful gardens have been open via the National Garden Scheme. Here you will come across ponds, woodland areas and orchards containing a number of old British apple trees, which make Glyndwr’s own unique and delicious cider.
For more information on this idyllic Winery, take a look at their website here.
4) Ryedale Vineyard, Yorkshire.
Established only in 2006, Ryedale is another of Britain’s award winning wineries. Set at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, it is England’s most northerly commercial vineyard. Ryedale are committed to caring for the environment and the wildlife around them, stating in their website that ‘Ryedale Vineyards have worked closely with the RSPB and other groups to ensure that bird life is not just protected but enhanced by our activities. Our vines are grown using a low spray approach, our farming methods have a low impact on the countryside, even harvesting is done by hand.’
The Ryedale offers Vineyard and winery tours, as well as light lunches, afternoon tea and packed hampers for two with a bottle of wine for you to find a favourite spot in the vineyard for lunch. Or why not stay in one of their two luxurious rooms in a farmhouse set in their beautiful 6 acre vineyard?
Take a look for yourself at this young, environmentally aware winery here.
5) Chapel Down, Kent.
According to englishwineproducers.co.uk, ‘Chapel Down is England’s leading wine producer and one of the UK’s most exciting drinks companies. Produced in Kent, Chapel Down offers a world-class range of sparkling and still wines, together with an award-winning range of Curious beer and cider.’
Chapel Down supply wines to a number of British icons, including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and No,10 Downing Street to name but a few.
The Independent describe it in their article as, ‘Situated a few miles from the pretty Kentish village of Tenterden, Chapel Down offers an enjoyable way to familiarise yourself with the best of British wine. If you’re simply after a pleasant stroll, pick up a map at the shop, which details a number of trails that criss-cross the 68-acre estate. To peep into the more technical aspects of the process, however, from harvesting to bottling, you’ll need to take a guided tour (around 1hr 45min), which take you into the winery itself and offer informal tutored tastings at the end. Even if you don’t have time for a tour, the shop is a must, selling all the Chapel Down favourites, from the sparkling Three Graces to the fruity Bacchus Reserve white. Staff will lead you through a free mini-tasting if you can’t decide.’
The Chapel Down offer visits and guided tours as well as gift experiences. You can also find the multi-award winning restaurant, The Swan. And why not lease your very own vine and have a go for yourself?
For more information on all of these things take a look the their website here.
So the next time you are searching for an award-winning wine, fancy a stroll among beautiful vineyards, improving your wine knowledge with an educational wine tour or even having a go at owning your own little piece of a vineyard, Think Great British!!
For more information and regular updates on the developing British Wine scene go to http://www.greatbritishwine.com or follow Great British Wine on Twitter.