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7 things you need to know about English wine – Warwickshire

Let's raise a glass for English Wine Week - Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June 2017


This week is English wine week, Sat May 27 – Sun June 4 2017, and what does that mean to you and I?  It’s a good an opportunity to find out a little more about the vino and celebrate our local wine producers. There’s around 400 vineyards producing still and sparkling wine across the UK, from as far north as Yorkshire, right down to the Kent coast.  At Warwick Food Festival on Sunday I discovered Bearley Vineyard and bought a bottle of their Avon Swan, a delicious medium dry white.  Their wine can also be bought from several local shops, wine merchants and restaurants (see website). They’re also at Warwick Market every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, and Stratford Market on the first Saturday.

But amazingly there are two more vineyards on our doorstep: Hunt Hall Farm Vineyard in Welford-on-Avon; and Welcombe Hills Vineyard in Snittersfield, nr Stratford.

1/ Priorities please, first let’s raise a glass of English Sparkling Wine to Brit scientist* Christopher Merret, who put the fizz into flat old wine way back in 1662.

2/ The Romans — those suave, sophisticates — loved quaffing a glass or two of Sancerre, feet-up watching some Gladitorial blood-fest. Brutal true, but they did drag us ale-swilling Celts kicking and screaming into the first century by planting vines right up to Lincolnshire.

Bearley Vineyard, near Snittersfield, Warwickshire Photo: Right Angle Photography

3/ Drink local my friends, drink local. Us booze-loving Brits slurp around 816 million bottles of wine annually, only 1% of that is English or Welsh wine.
4/ English Sparkling Wine is the new Champagne, it’s official: get this from voice of yoof Vice. Not convinced? Well, sorry but the experts are.

5/ And talking of champers, did you know that Southern England’s soil — is it pretentious if I say terroir? Just love the semantics of that word — is similar to the Champagne region, especially now we actually have a summer. Get digging, because the same chalk seam runs from Northern France across the Channel to the Home Counties.

6/ Warwickshire is a hot bed of all things English Wine and you can judge for yourselves. Exhibit A) Leamington’s Food and Drink Festival (Sept 9-10)  Exhibit B) Alcester & Forest of Arden Food Festival Autumn on October 21. Another (local) brilliant exponent of the art is Bearley Vineyard’s award winning Gold Medal English Sparkling Brut (dry) in the UK Vineyards Association (UKVA) annual competitions. They’ve also won Best Red Wine in Mercia for the Pinot Noir Précoce, and Best Rosé in Mercia.

Award winning wine maker Kieron Atkinson looks after Renishaw Hall Vineyard in Derbyshire and Welcombe Hills Vineyard in Warwickshire..

7/ To end, a random yet true fact. London’s East End wasn’t always hipsters, high rises and baggy-trousered Nineties boybands.  Yup way back circa 1660, a certain Lady Batten grew grapes on her country estate in erm, Walthamstow producing a “very good” red wine according to Pepys. Puts the term Grand Crew Cru in a totally different light, and Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring.

*OK history pedants, I know this is decades before The Union but saying ‘English’ twice in a sentence sounds shoddy, a’right.

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