English Wine Industry
As a avid winery visitor when I was living in Virginia, I had been hoping for a English vineyard visit since my early days in the country. Although, I didn’t realize till about a year ago that England even had a wine producing industry. Apparently what has really made a difference in the growth of wine production in recent years is climate change – thanks to global warming, England’s south now has a climate similar to France’s north, which is more conducive to grape growing.
Also because of the climate, England produces mostly white wines, with a large increase in the production of sparking white wine in recent years. Some wineries do produce red wines, but they tend to be weaker since there isn’t enough sunshine in the country for the grapes to mature to the level they need to.
Our Visit to Three Choirs Vineyard
As I was in Cheltenham with Mark Saturday, we decided to go visit Three Choirs Vineyard in Newent, Gloucestershire (about 30 minutes by car from Cheltenham). Mark had been to the winery before and enjoyed it, so I was keen to see it for myself.
Rather than having tastings throughout the day like most Virginia wineries do, at Three Choirs Vineyard they have two tastings with a tour each weekend day, at 11am or 2:30pm. We arrived just before the 11am one.
On the tour we learned that the vineyard was originally opened in the 1970s and started on HALF an acre (cue my thoughts that I could too someday opening a winery)! It is now much bigger of course, at seventy acres, and includes a wine shop, restaurant, and small inn.
The vineyard is located in a valley that has a micro climate that actually makes it 4-6 F degrees (2-3 C degrees) warmer than the surrounding area. I could definitely feel the sun shining strongly that day and enjoyed getting some vitamin D in!
We also learned that the owner had done some research before buying the property and found out that the Romans had grown grapes in the same area. I swear there’s nothing the Romans didn’t do!
During the tour we tried two white wines, one sparkling white wine, and one red wine. I actually liked all the wines – even the red, but the first two whites were my favorite. We also got to see the machines that are used for bottling, labeling, and removing sediment in wine bottles.
After the tour Mark and I headed to the wine shop. I was pleasantly surprised that a few of the bottles available were only £8.50 (approx $11) so we bought one to enjoy there and a few to take home. We set out our picnic of wine, cheese, and crackers and proceeded to have a lovely afternoon.
My Thoughts on English Wine
I was skeptical that English wine might be sub-par because of the whole climate factor, but I was pleasantly surprised that the wines I tried were quite good. While there still aren’t a ton of wineries in general in the country, there are a few that are day-trip doable from London, so it’s piqued my interest to check them out.
Would you want to visit an English winery? Have you been to any countries where their wine production surprised you?
Till next time all!