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We hope this blog inspires you to enjoy more English Wines and visit some vineyards yourself. If you would like to do that, here are some recommended resources…
Wine Cellar Door Website
Buying wine from the cellar door is the equivalent of buying food from the farm gate. That’s why we chose www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk as the name for our website of visitor-friendly vineyards.
You can search by region, whether or not somewhere has a restaurant, even overnight accommodation; it’s crammed with photographs which show it how it is and it really easy to contact the producer by phone or click through to their own website. We hope you find it useful.
Launched in April 2014, it was highly commended in the Wine Tourism Awards 2015.
The first thing that you really can’t do without is the most up to date version you can get of the Map of the Vineyards of England & Wales. This indicates all of the vineyards that are members of the UK Vineyards Association by county and provides detailed listings for around half of these, clearly indicating which are open to the public / not open to visitors / open by appointment.
The 2011 version is still in circulation, costs £2.95 and is available from many of the vineyards listed. At this point there were 315 vineyards indicated, with full listings for 167 of them.
As we come across other books, blogs and websites that we find useful, we’ll keep updating the relevant pages.
Books on English Wines
Stephen Skelton’s UK Vineyards Guide 2010 is detailed and contains information from many personal visits, although is perhaps more of a text book than a guide book. The world of English and Welsh wine is moving rapidly and we understand that Stephen is working on an updated version.
A Guide to the Wines of England & Wales by Philip Williamson, David Moore & Neville Blech is about the best one we’ve come across for the vineyard visitor. It has clear, well-organised information on history, regions and grapes as well as vineyards. It’s crammed with useful information and imagery. However, this book is now very much out of date and earlier rumours of an update appear not to have come to fruition.
Even with that caveat, it’s definitely a book for your collection, but do cross-check with other resources before heading out on a long journey to a vineyard.
We’ve come across some lovely and informative vineyard blogs. Check out your local vineyard or enjoy some of these. Just one warning, some of them are so interesting and well-written, you’ll be totally drawn in and wonder where the day has gone! Oh, what the heck, just pour yourself a good glass of English wine and settle down with a blog…
As members of one of our local vineyards, we have to keep up with what Nick Wenman blogs about happenings at Albury Organic Vineyard, Surrey. I’ve just read that he’s hoping for a crop up 7-fold on last year! My delight for Nick is tempered only slightly by the knowledge that I’ve offered to help with the picking…
Now, EnglishWineLovers normally operates a fairly strict “one degree of separation” rule, where we might occasionally talk about English winemakers abroad or hop-growing in England, for example. But rules are made for breaking, no? The following blog is by an American in France, but is so delightfully, vividly written that I couldn’t resist including it. I came across it because I used to work with Mary’s husband. He’s one of the good guys and taught me how to send back an off bottle of wine graciously, amongst many other things. The blog is listed totally on its own merit, though. “Grapes and Old Stones” – Mary Bruton Sandifer blogs on La Tourbeille Vineyard in Limousin, France.
Books on Winemaking
The Ripening Sun by Patricia Atkinson is a great read on, amongst other things, just how jolly hard it is to set up a vineyard and produce and sell respected wines. OK, so she’s in France, but she’s English, so I think we can be allowed to mention this one.
The book is autobiographical and reviews seem to be mixed on whether people enjoyed it as literature. Personally, I did, but either way, the detailed information on wine-making is fascinating and exhausting to read. Don’t set up a vineyard without reading this first!
Update April 2015: As far as we can gather, Patricia is no longer growing grapes and making wine, but The Ripening Sun and her second book La Belle Saison are both still available and worth seeking out.
English Wine Producers aim to promote the Fine Wines of England and have a good informative site that is kept up to date.
TripAdvisor provides reviews of quite a few vineyards. From our experience, it’s worth reading the reviews and not just taking the star ratings at face value. It seems that some vineyards have been offering very inexpensive tours with Groupon and similar vouchers. The low cost has attracted people who are more interested in a day out than in winemaking and the tight margins have meant that vineyards have sometimes not been able to deliver as much as the visitor has expected. This doesn’t mean that a normal visit or tour won’t meet the expectations of the interested wine explorer.
English Wine Week is a page on the English Wine Producers site listing special events for this week. Typically, it gets very few listings until right before the event, so is not great for planning purposes, but is better than nothing.
Industry-facing sites of interest to the keen consumer
UK Vineyards Association is the industry body for English and Welsh Wines. Their site is therefore more industry-facing than consumer-facing, but does include some useful information.
ukvine is a website dedicated to wine grown and produced in the UK. It contains a lively mix of news & features that touch directly on wine produced in the UK. Again, lots of information is aimed at the trade, but the keen consumer will find it of interest, too.