Wine time that's closest to home

04 May, 2007

Emma Eversham finds out how seven of the major players are going to be touting their wares during English Wine Week

Emma Eversham finds out how seven of the major players are going to be touting their wares during English Wine Week

English Wine Week starts on May 26 and retailers are being encouraged to get on board and promote the country's wines .

With the campaign now in its sixth year, organisers are more enthusiastic than ever about English wine and are confident the week will be a success.

Julia Trustram Eve, of English Wine,

says: "We are very excited about the industry at the moment. There's an awful lot going on and demand has never been higher.

"We want to highlight the availability of English wines through the trade," she adds.

"This is an area I have seen develop a lot over the past couple of years, so really English Wine Week is a good opportunity for retailers to be doing something ."

Point of sale material has been created for the week and some vineyards have already approached their local wine merchants to set up tastings.

For more information visit class="bold">More on offer

Small vineyards in Devon have taken things a step further and organised a mini festival - Devon Wine Week - within English Wine Week. At least one event will tak e place every day during the promotion, either at a vineyard or a participating shop . For more information visit Wine Week will also run during the same week.


Location: Dorking, Surrey

Climate and soil: Set on the edge of the North Downs, Denbies has a cool maritime climate and sits on chalky soil, making it very similar to that of France's Champagne region.

Wines produced: Fifteen still (red and white) and sparkling wines are divided into three categories - the entry-level Estate Range, Vineyard Select, which has a limited release and production, and Cellarmaster's Choice, a more complex range of wines.

The single-estate vineyard has remained family-run since it was set up in 1986 and has become a tourist attraction as well as a working business over the years.

Tours of the vineyard are run throughout the year and there are also two restaurants and a shop. There are plans to increase the size of the single estate vineyard from 107ha to 243ha by 2012.

Denbies wines are currently listed in selected Waitrose stores, but the wines are more widely sold by independent wine retailers and at local farm and fine food shops.

Elfrida Spooner, wine sales manager, says: "I do like to sell to them because they are often people who know their wine and they must have a love of wines to be doing what they do."

During English Wine Week Denbies is holding tastings in the gift shop and will be running price promotions on wines.

Contact: 01306 876616


Location: West Chiltington, West Sussex

Climate and soil: Mild springs and increasingly warm summers combined with sheltered, south-facing slopes with chalky soil make an ideal grape-growing environment.

Wines produced: Sparkling wines - Aurora Cuvée, Classic Cuvée and Première Cuvée, all of various vintages.

First planted by Americans Stuart and Sandy Moss in 1988, the estate now covers 78ha on five sites close to the original vineyard in West Chiltington. In 2006 the estate was bought by wine enthusi ast Eric Heerema, who is planning to increase the size of the vineyard by another 28ha this year, which he hopes will increase production from the current 60,000 bottles a year to 500,000 a year.

Heerema says: "We are respected for our quality and the price we ask will be much higher than many other English wine producers, but we are unfortunately in over-demand and under-supply at the moment so we are concentrating on increasing the size of our estate."

Heerema says the vineyard is not planning any special events for English Wine Week this year to focus fully on the expansion plans. "Perhaps at a future English Wine Week we will be more involved," he says.

Contact: 01798 813989


Location: Ditchling, East Sussex

Climate and soil: High hills to the south of the vineyard create a rain shadow keeping the microclimate dry and hot in the summer. The estate stands on a low ridge of paludina limestone on top of a sandstone bed and slopes southward towards the Downs.

Wines produced: Three sparkl ers - Bloomsbury 2004, Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2004 and Fitzrovia Rosé 2004.

The family-run vineyard was set up by Christine and Michael Roberts in 1994 and their wines have become so successful that, like Nyetimber, Ridgeview is now in a position of over-demand and under-supply. Currently anyone turning up at the vineyard is only allowed one bottle per release, but the Roberts family is trying to overcome the short supply with a five-fold expansion of the estate in the next five years.

During English Wine Week the estate will be open to the public and there are also two special evening events.

The first, a blind tasting of Ridgeview sparkling wines against Champagne and a tour of the vineyard, takes place on May 29 with Charles Metcalfe hosting a tasting of older vintages against younger on May 31.

Mardi Roberts, sales and marketing manager, says: "At the moment our wine is under critical supply, but we also believe in marketing English wine."


0845 3457292

Breaky Bottom

Location: Rodmell, East Sussex

Climate and soil: Situated three miles from the sea, it has a mild climate and is on chalky soil similar to that of Champagne in France.

Wines produced: White and sparkling.

Planted in 1974 by Peter Hall, the 2.5ha vineyard has remained the same size since then, which is exactly how Hall likes it. "I know the vines," he says . " It's intimate. When people visit and ask questions they hear back from the grower who planted it 33 years ago. I can field questions from anybody and that's how I like it."

Hall sa ys English wine is getting better all the time and the warmer summers are benefiting production .

He says: "In 2003 we recorded 35°C and at the same time it was 45 °C in Champagne, which was too hot to produce good Champagne, so what was going to be a wonderful year for us wasn't so good for them."

Hall has no events planned for English Wine Week, but anyone who wishes to visit can do so by appointment.

Contact: 01273 476427

Camel Valley

Location: Nanstallon, Cornwall

Climate and soil: A mild Cornish climate and wide, sunny, south-facing slopes allow full and slow ripening of the grapes.

Wines produced: Red, white and sparkling.

The family-run estate was first planted by Bob and Annie Lindo in 1989 and is now co-managed by Bob and their son, Sam. The yield has grown considerably in that time, from eight tonnes during their first vintage to 180 tonnes last year and wines are listed in a number of local wine merchants and in selected branches of Waitrose.

Sam Lindo says: "It's really exciting in England at the moment, because there are a few of us making really good wines now. Ours always do well in blind tastings and I think the awards we win show that we are up there with other countries."

Camel Valley will be open for guided tours as usual during English Wine Week, but there will also be a special event on May 31. The Red, White and Sparkling evening costs £18 for a tour of the vineyard, a tasting and canapés.

Contact: 01208 77959

Three Choirs

Location: Newent, Gloucestershire

Climate and soil: The nearby Brecon Beacons and the Malvern Hills help to shelter the vineyard from rain and the vines are set on south-facing slopes with sandy soil, providing good drainage.

Wines produced: Red, white, rosé and sparkling wines.

Since the first vines were planted 30 years ago, the vineyard has grown to cover 30ha and 300,000 bottles of wine are now produced there every year. Three Choirs also makes wine for about 30 other growers in the area.

Like Denbies, Three Choirs attracts a large number of visitors to the estate, where there is a shop, restaurant and an eight-room bed and breakfast.

Guided tours of the vineyard are held throughout the year and the shop is open from 9am to 8.30pm most days . Wines are also stocked in Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and a number of independent wine specialists.

Thomas Shaw of Three Choirs says: "The quality of English wine is getting better and better every year and I think we'll be seeing more red wine produced here in the not-so-distant future."

Three Choirs will be open to the public as usual during English Wine Week. There are no special events or promotions planned.

Contact: 01531 890223

Chapel Down

Location: Tenterden, Kent (the estate is spread over 23 vineyards in Essex, Kent and West Sussex)

Climate and soil: Var y from site to site.

Wines produced: Red, white and sparkling wines.

Chapel Down is currently the biggest producer of English wine and is to get even bigger with plans to plant 48.5ha of vines a year for the next five years.

Demand for some Chapel Down wines, which are stocked in selected Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose stores, has increased more than tenfold over the past three years. For example, 50,000 bottles of English Rose are now produced, compared with 4,000 three years ago. The wine also sells for £3 more per bottle now.

Managing director Frazer Thompson said more and more retailers were showing interest in English wine. He says: "Clearly the wines are seen as good value and people are understanding the environmental value of English wine too.

"English Wine Week is important because it shows that this is not just a cottage industry."

To celebrate English wine week, the £6.50 tours and tastings normally held at the main site in Tenterden will be free for the duration of the campaign.

Contact: 01580 763033

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