English Wine Week 2021

Here Wine Tours of Kent have kindly shared their knowledge and expertise to help you celebrate English Wine!

English Wine Week- why we need to raise a glass and celebrate it! 

There’s so many national and international dates constantly cropping up in the calendar, and it’s hard to know which are worth celebrating. From cupcake day to ballpoint pen day (yes, really!), the calendar is filled with occasions we could be marking. But, after the last year we’ve had, I say we should be jumping at every opportunity to celebrate something, whether it’s big or small! And, with English Wine Week falling at the start of summer, I say let’s pick up a glass and do a big cheers to English wines and all that they encompass!

When the UK went into the first national lockdown, there was a huge increase across the country from consumers buying local produce and supporting independent shops and businesses. In fact, in a survey carried out by Wine GB, two thirds of wine producers expected their business to shrink during the first 2020 lockdown and instead saw an online sales increase by 25%.

With over 50 vineyards in Kent alone, it is now easier than ever to purchase a nice bottle of local wine… but where do you start?

We are so lucky to have so many vineyards here in Kent that have a shop or a cellar door selling not only their own great range of wines but also support other local producers, selling items such as meats, cheeses and condiments. Biddenden Vineyard and Chapel Down are just a couple to name who offer a great selection, and welcome visitors with open arms too! If you don’t have time to visit the vineyards themselves, there are some great independent businesses across Kent that also stock a fantastic selection. Macknades in Ashford, Faversham (and soon to be in Tunbridge Wells too) have an impressive English wine section. Produced in Kent is also a great place to start if you are looking to try and support local!

So, now you’ve found out where to purchase your wine, which wine do you choose?

If you’re new to the English wine world, this should be an exciting experience, but it can also be just as overwhelming with so many different still and sparkling wines to choose from. How many of you go to a supermarket and pick up a bottle based on the label or stick to your favourites? I like to select the wine I’m going drink, based on what I will be eating, and I think it’s a good place to start!

Let me share with you some of our favourite wine and food pairings to enjoy at home or out and about…

A British classic is good old battered and fried cod and chips, and this is the perfect pairing with a bottle of sparkling wine such as a Gusbourne’s Blanc De Blanc or Chapel Down’s NV Brut. If you are not a fan of bubbles, Hush Heath's Saignee would work well also.

If you are enjoying the great British weather and like a barbecue, grilled lemon sole with fresh new potatoes alongside a bottle of Biddenden Vineyard’s Ortega or Chapel Down’s premium Kits Coty Chardonnay would be a great combination.

For those that enjoy something lighter during the summer months, a goat's cheese salad accompanied by a glass of Wayfarer’s Bacchus or Simpsons Wine Estate’s Railway Hill Rosé is always a winner, perfect for vegetarians too!

On drizzly summer days, brighten up your palate with some locally caught seafood and pair with Kent’s 2021 wine of the year - Herbert Hall’s Brut or the 2020 winner from Woodchurch Vineyard their Rosé Sparkling.

If you are looking for a vegan food and wine match made in heaven then look no further than Terlingham Vineyard’s natural sparkling white wine - just add sautéed crushed new potatoes with garlic and lemon zest alongside an asparagus and avocado salad.

Right, now that I have made myself well and truly ready for lunch I shall finish by telling you about our Wine Tours of Kent and wine tastings…

We transport guests through the beautiful countryside, so you can explore Kent’s vineyards for a day of wine tasting. Each wine tour is bespoke and we can cater for private groups of any size, so there’s no need to make your other half the designated driver! We can pick you up and drop you off right at your door! Join the English wine buzz and let us show you what all the fuss is about!

We’d love to see what you are drinking this English Wine Week so please do tag us in on Instagram @winetoursofkent if you test out any of our recommendations!

Brabourne Vineyard

Brabourne Vineyard is a small, family run vineyard sitting at the foot of the North Downs. They focus on premium wines, growing just Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and producing high end English Sparkling Wine and some still Rose.

Visitors can expect a truly personal experience tailored to their own interests.

Biddenden Vineyard

Kent’s original vineyard, Biddenden has been owned and managed by the Barnes family since 1969. Today the vineyard is run by the second & third generations of the family, drawing on many years of experience in winemaking at Biddenden.

Eleven varieties of grape are grown across 23 acres of gentle south facing slopes, producing award-winning white, red, rosé and sparkling quality English wines. Ortega, Biddenden’s signature wine, accounts for approximately half of the vineyard.

Self-Guided tours are available 7 days a week and include a guide booklet and tasting flight of wines, which may be purchased from the Vineyard Shop on arrival.  Private Guided tours are available Wednesday – Saturday for groups of up to 6 people.

Chapel Down

Chapel Down in Tenterden is home to England’s leading wine producer. Chapel Down produces sparkling and still wines from grapes grown across the South East of England, as well as a range of premium spirits.

The winery also offers a range of fantastic experiences which include refreshments, interactive masterclasses and accommodation in the local area.

For those who have always dreamed of owning their own vineyard, the Vine Leasing scheme could be the answer and makes a great gift.

Gusbourne

For this year’s English Wine Week, Gusbourne will be releasing a new still wine vintage as well as adding a special wine to their tasting line up for all tours and tastings during that week. They will also be hosting a five-course tasting menu paired with wines from the six producers that make up the Wine Garden of England.

Balfour - Hush Heath Estate

Along with award-winning and world-class English wines, beers and ciders Hush Heath Estate is home to some of England’s most vibrant flora and fauna.  For walkers and wine lovers alike, the Estate offers an unparalleled guest experience. See for yourself with a self-guided stroll through beautiful vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands.

Maybe you’d prefer to choose from the many experiences available at the vineyard, A Cellar Door Masterclass Tasting, The Balfour Art and Wine Tour, or maybe the Balfour Wine and Dine Experience, so much to choose from.

Woodchurch Wine

A family business established in 2009, Woodchurch Vineyard produces exceptional English sparkling wine. Situated on the edge of the picturesque village of Woodchurch on hills looking south over the ancient Romney marsh down to the English channel.

The vineyard has the perfect geography and climate to produce the highest quality grapes and the finest English sparkling wine. All their wines are carefully hand-crafted to perfectly express the characteristics of each individual season.

Oxney Organic Estate

Join the team at Oxney Organic Estate on Saturdays at 11am (between April and November) for an enlightening introduction to the English organic wine revolution.

For over 90 minutes, you’ll take a tour through the vineyard, winery and wines under the expert guidance of a friendly, knowledgeable member of the team. They will talk you through the perils of cool-climate grape-growing and the organic methods and innovations they use to overcome them. At the end, you’ll get to sample the results for yourself in a guided tasting of four of their best-loved wines.

Cheers - Tenterden Wine Trail

The English wine industry is enjoying a renaissance, thanks in no small part to Kent's top class wine producers.

The county's south-facing slopes, chalk soils and increasingly warm climate provide the ideal conditions for grape growing and are in fact similar to the Champagne region of France.

Every vineyard is unique and has something different to explore, so take a look at this wine trail guide to help you plan your visit. We hope you'll have fun - Cheers!