Tag Archives: English Wine

Harvest at an English Vineyard

Whereas I just left the sunny Languedoc in full swing, with the majority of their harvest safely in tanks, things are only just starting to get going in the UK on the grape harvest for the 2015 wine vintage.

Grapes need a whole lot of sunshine hours to ripen, and although the UK days are long, as you’ll know, the sunshine can be a little minimal. In the hot and dry regions of the world, grapes have no problem ripening, but in cooler climates like the UK, we’re reliant on a long growing season to maximise the grape ripeness to develop the sugars and flavours in the grape to produce enough alcohol. A long, warm September like we’re experiencing definitely helps to ripen off the grapes and vineyards around the South East of England are now beginning to plan their 2015 harvest.

If fancy getting involved with harvesting at a vineyard, look no further to many of the vineyards here in the UK who are on the look out for volunteers or others selling tickets for those less green fingered amongst you who fancy more of an ‘experience’. Of the 400+ vineyards in the UK, there’s loads of harvesting opportunity to be had, but here are a handful of the ones that I’m familiar with in the South East, all producing excellent wine and guaranteed to show you a great day out however hard you fancy working;

Photo of TIm singlehandedly brining in the 2014 harevest (stolen blatantly from Chafor's Facebook.com/chaforwine page)

Tim singlehandedly bringing in the 2014 harvest (Photo credit: Guy Adams from Chafor’s Facebook.com/chaforwine page)

Chafor Wine Estate,  Gawcott, Buckinghamshire, MK18 4HT

Be part of the CHAFOR Grand Harvest 2015 on 17th and/ or 18th October. Tim Chafor heads up this family owned vineyard set in the midst of the Buckinghamshire countryside, not far from Oxford and Milton Keynes. Their first release of still wines was their 2013 vintage, featuring award winning Bacchus, Chardonnay and Rosé, their sparkling wine is yet to be released.

Perks include lunch (FYI, Tim has a pizza oven and does jolly fine pizzas!), wine to take home and a VIP invitation to the Grand Harvest Supper.

Book your place now: info@chafor.co.uk or call Tim on: 07973 892427

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One of the hottest days this summer in the vineyard back in early July.

Oaken Grove Vineyard, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames, Buckinghamshire (just over the Oxfordshire border).

We helped owner, Phil Rossi, with his bountiful harvest on a beautiful sunny, autumnal day last year, picking his Bacchus grapes. I say we, because it was a family affair and the kids came too and were surprisingly, not too annoying. This year, he hopes that harvesting will start on 17th October for the Bacchus and the following weekend for the Pinot Noir, so drop him a Facebook message or email to get involved. He’ll also be at the Perfect Friday Wine Tasting afternoon in Marlow on 10th October, if you wanted to have a chat before you sign up! [You can buy Oaken Grove Benham Blush here]

Last year, we were fed a well earned hog roast with all the trimmings, tasted newly released wines and got sent home with a bottle. A fabulous day to spend one of those last days of summer around Henley.

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Boutique wines at their finest at Dropmore Vineyard, just to the north of Burnham, Bucks.

Dropmore Vineyard, Littleworth Common, Buckinghamshire, SL1 8NF

Perhaps Maidenhead’s closest vineyard, the Dropmore harvest is a real family affair. With just 3 acres of vines, this is as boutique as they come and the delicious Bacchus White and Pinot Blush have both won awards. Owned by John Petersen, drop him a line if you fancy lending a helping hand. Harvest starts on 11th October and will continue throughout October. Word on the street has it that Dropmore offer the best harvest catering going! [You can buy Dropmore Vineyard Bacchus here]

John will also be at the Perfect Friday Wine Tasting afternoon in Marlow on 10th October, so he can check you out before he lets you near the vines!

Pinot Noir grapes in stage of 'veraison' (colour change) earlier in the summer at Bluebell.

Pinot Noir grapes in stage of ‘veraison’ (colour change) earlier in the summer at Bluebell.

Bluebell Vineyard Estates, Furners Green, East Sussex, TN22 3RU

More of an experience than a horticultural work out, Bluebell are hosting a day in the vines on Saturday 17th October, 10-3pm. Spend the morning hand-harvesting grapes followed by a delicious lunch overlooking the vineyard, then a tutored tasting of their fabulous sparkling wines, made onsite, led by wine maker Kevin Sutherland. Also, taste the grape juice, fresh off the press (which, is sooooo tasty and described to me as ‘the nectar’ by one Saint-Chinian vineyard worker). [You can buy Bluebell Vineyard Estates Brut Rosé and Seyval Blanc here]

Call 01825 791561 or email wineinfo@bluebellvineyard.co.uk to book your tickets at £40 per head (well worth it for being wined and dined in such a beautiful setting). Or come and meet Bluebell Vineyard at the Perfect Friday Wine Tasting afternoon in Marlow on 10th October.

 

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Filed under English Wine, Home Counties, Maidenhead, Seasonal, Seyval Blanc, Sparkling, Wine Tasting, Wine Travel

The Local Vineyards of Maidenhead: English Wine Week

eww14If you’ve already chatted to me at a Perfect Friday Wine event, it’s likely that I’ve already bent your ear about just how wonderful English Wine is these days, and also likely that you’ve tried some of my award winning sparklers from Bluebell Vineyard Estates in East Sussex. Had I mentioned that their Brut Rosé has just won best sparkling rosé in the Judgement of Parsons Green competition against over 90 other English sparkling wines and came third overall? Well, now you know and if you haven’t already, you must try it – it’s glorious!

East Sussex is also home to some of the better known vineyards such as Ridgeview, Henners and much anticipated Rathfinny. The rest of the southern-most counties, are also home to the biggest and internationally recognised vineyards such as Camel Valley in Cornwall, Nyetimber in West Sussex, Chapel Down and Gusborne in Kent to name but a few. But you may be surprised to know that up here, nearby in the Chilterns, where the soil is still similar to that of Champagne, and the climate is still nice and warm (a degree up in the last decade), we have a whole plethora of local viti and viniculturists of our own, growing the same grape varieties and making wine in the same traditional method as Champagne.

As we approach English Wine Week (24-31 May 2014), allow me to introduce you to Maidenhead and Marlow’s own local vineyard scene, some of our closest vineyards and what they’re up to, in the hope that I can intrigue you enough to get a little bit interested in English wine, how it’s a growing player in our local produce scene and encourage you to get out there and taste it!

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Filed under English Wine, Maidenhead, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Nyetimber and The Vineyard at Stockcross

IMG_0698My very first interest in learning more about wine started during an English Wine Producers‘ tasting at the Great British Cheese Festival around 10 years ago. The realisation that there could be a future in producing wine made from grapes grown in this country, ignited a real excitement in me that wine had failed to do in the past and it’s what prompted me to apply to complete my WSET courses. A far from romantic affair, run in an old science lab at Bracknell and Wokingham College, both my Intermediate and Advanced courses delivered an anti-climatic one page, 10 minute passing over of wine from England and Wales amongst the intrigue of the rest of the world’s wines.

To distract me further, all thoughts of English wine were then buried under piles of laundry and dirty nappies. Until that is, my interest was reignited in the form of a bottle of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee produced to celebrate my birthday last summer.

Since then, my English wine nerdiness has spiralled, the pinnacle of which saw me presenting an English wine tasting, so, imagine my delight when an invitation to ‘An Evening with Nyetimber‘ came my way! Not just a Nyetimber tasting, but a wine and dinner pairing at the one and only The Vineyard at Stockcross, the 5-star boutique hotel, spa and restaurant between Hungerford and Newbury. Cue much jubilation and clicking of heels (if I could click my heels, but that’s a whole other story) and off I drove into the sunset last Sunday night with the wind in my hair and the promise of a first class dinner and watering . Continue reading

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking Out, English Wine, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting