Where to Buy
Fortunately, it’s getting easier and easier to find English and Welsh wines on sale. We’ve given some pointers below and we’ll be blogging on any interesting ones we find.
Just for the record, opinions expressed in blogs are the blogger’s own, biased only by individual preference and the experience on that particular day. If we find things that we aren’t so fond of, we’ll speak as we find, but we don’t like hatchet jobs so if we don’t find anything redeeming at all, we’ll just keep quiet.
Buying from the vineyard is our preferred option as it puts more money in the pocket of the hard working grape grower and / or winemaker. It’s also part of enjoying a visit to take home some treasure.
If you’re heading for south Devon on a sunny day, is it possible not to take the turning to Sharpham, wend your way through countryside and village to enjoy a delicious al fresco lunch at the Anchorstone Café and collect some wine to take away? Possible, but not desirable, in my book. If there’s time, a tour of the vineyards (self-guided, with parts of the route along the river) and a tasting of the latest vintages is always a delight too. And it does seem a bit rude to holiday or meet friends in Cornwall without picking up something delicious from Camel Valley on the way.
Our very own sister website www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk is now, we believe, the most up to date reference of vineyards where you can buy directly “from the cellar door” and you’ll be surprised how many there are, now around 200! Some also offer tours, even a café or restaurant. Sometimes the price is the same as elsewhere, on other occasions you can get a real bargain by buying from the vineyard because you’ve saved them some marketing and other costs.
Of course, travelling 100 miles to collect that bottle you fancy isn’t always feasible. Some vineyards have good online shops, but delivery charges mean you really need to be buying half a case at least, again not always what you want to do.
We’re currently having discussions about a monthly case or half-case of wines from the UK. Email us or sign up to the newsletter (see sign-up box on this page) if you’re interested and we’ll make sure you’re among the very first to have the opportunity to participate.
Other buying options include English Wine Specialists, Local Wine Merchants & Farmers Markets and even Supermarkets.
English Wine Specialists
Wine Pantry have two outlets in Borough Market and are champions of English wine – definitely worth checking them out if you are in London. Julia Stafford and her team are constantly seeking out new wines, many of which you can try by the glass.
Right in English wine country is The Exceptional English Wine Company at Cowdray Park, near Midhurst. They are open 7 days a week and always have a few bottles open to taste.
Independent Wine Merchants
A good place to look out for wines from your home area is independent local wine merchants. The owners of these shops really care about wine and their reputation is built on the quality of what they sell. The English wines you see here probably won’t be the cheapest, but they will have earned their place on the shelves on merit.
Examples include Caviste (Hampshire and Berkshire) and The Wine Shop at Winscombe (Somerset), The Naked Grape (Hampshire), Hennings (Sussex), No. 8 Wine Co (Dorset) and others too numerous to mention.
We have plans to interview some of our local wine merchants who stock a good range of English wines to hear their latest thoughts and highlight some wines to watch.
Local Food & Wine Specialists and Farmers Markets
There are some fabulous specialists in local food & wines, delicatessens and farm shops. Just two examples are Darts Farm near Exeter, where there is always a good supply of wines and other produce from Devon and elsewere in the South West and Blacker Hall Farm Shop near Wakefield, just off the M1 and easily accessible from both J38 & J39.
We’ve also spotted an increasing trend of farm shops with their own vineyards; these include Cobbs in Berkshire, Boyces Nursery, Fruit Farm & Manstree Vineyard in Devon and Setley Ridge Vineyard and Farm Shop in Hampshire.
Sadly, the days when bottles of Nyetimber wines were sold for around a tenner at the local farmers market are just a fond and distant memory. Worth checking your local market, though, everyone has to start somewhere!
English Wine Producers also have a list of Independent Retailers on their website.
Supermarkets are stocking more English wines and, where their ordering and distribution allows, highlighting the wines of their local area.
Waitrose claim to be the largest retailer of English wines in the UK and even have their own vineyard producing Leckford Estate fizz (there’s an excellent farm shop at Leckford, too). This is in addition to a wide selection of wine from other producers.
Tesco are working with Denbies; the Finest English White Wine is an blend exclusive to Tesco and Denbies Broadwood’s Folly Brut is also exclusive to Tesco’s and of a similar style to Denbies’ own Whitedowns.
Many of the vineyards and other outlets mentioned here also sell online. The English Wine Shop and Great English Wines sell a reasonable selection of all types of English wine. There are also specialists in selling sparkling wine from around the world, such as Grays and Feather, who have a good selection of English fizz.
Every wine list that passes our gaze is subject to scrutiny for English wines, as you would expect. We’ll be giving a positive shout to any that catch our eye. Those we have name-checked so far include Storm Fish Restaurant in Dorset, The Shed in Notting Hill and Greenberry Café on Primrose Hill.