Vineyard Blog

Some of my English Wine Stories

You know how it goes when you start thinking of something like a new car or a name for a child and then you start seeing them everywhere? Well I’m a bit like that about English & Welsh Wine, call it thought association, if you will.

I was doing some decorating recently and listening to a Radio 4 programme called Open Country about the Strawberry Line, a disused railway in Somerset.

As I listened (and it’s a good listen, I do recommend it), here are some of the thoughts that came to mind…

In the immediate vicinity of the Strawberry Line are a couple of excellent vineyards, there’s Aldwick Estate, which specialises in weddings and business events, I stayed over there once in their self-catering apartment, a great little getaway from the world where you can wake up to the sight of vines, always a favourite for me! Their wines are gaining increasing recognition too, which is great to see.

Close by is Dunleavy Vineyards, I had the pleasure of drinking their rosé with owner Ingrid and my friend, artist Laura Cramer, in a delightful wine bar in Bristol. Laura later went to visit Ingrid and created a beautiful series of paintings, one of which illustrates this post. The vineyard is not open often, but do pop to the charming Garden Café at Somerset Flower Farm close by, where you can by the wines and have a nice cup of tea, too.

The programme also mentioned Winscombe, which is where you’ll find Kerry in The Wine Shop. She usually has a great selection of local, wines on offer, which made me think of how important independent wine merchants are to introducing special wines to a new audience.

The Strawberry Line itself in the programme is a disused railway line that used to be used to deliver locally grown fruit to market and is now well used as a walking and cycling route. Did you know that Camel Valley, one of our best known and respected vineyards is also on a disused railway line? In fact a great way to get there is to hire a bicycle and cycle along the Camel Way from Padstow.

Looking for a vineyard you can actually get to by train? Chartham Vineyard in Kent is just around the corner from a station of the same name. They are open on Saturdays for tastings all year round and also have an art gallery in the converted barn that is their tasting room, so you may end up buying a painting or ceramic piece, too!

At the end of the programme we were introduced to a café where young people who struggle for work are gently introduced to a variety of skills and later helped to find more permanent employment. This is very similar to the ethos of the Fifth Trust who run Elham Valley Vineyard in Kent, which includes a garden centre and café, just one of half a dozen or so charity vineyards who all do great work in their own very different ways.

So what’s this, an article on English Vineyards that barely mentions wine? That’s not to say the wine isn’t important, far from it, but vineyard visits are also about the stories you create and the memories you make. These are just a few of mine, what is your happiest memory of visiting a winery?

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