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Planted in 1989, Plumpton Estate has become the centre of viticulture education in the UK. Degree students produce award winning wines, including their renowned sparkling - the Dean Brut NV.
Hidden in the heart of rural Sussex, Bolney Estate uses Roman winemaking traditions brought to the UK over 2,000 years ago. Try their Dark Harvest to discover a Great English red wine.
One of the larger vineyards in England, Hush Heath Estate totals an area of more than 28 hectares. They use traditional champagne grapes to produce delicious sparkling wines.
Chapel Down, based in Tenterden, Kent, is the largest winemaker in England. This modern winery produces smart, fresh wines that display the best characteristics of English styles.
Nestled on the North Downs in Dorking, Denbies benefit from the regions chalky soil, which provides growth conditions similar to the Champagne region. Their sparkling wines are popular with Waitrose customers.
Ridgeview Estate lies on one of the highest points of the Sussex Downs and enjoys a superb terroir for grapes. They produce high quality sparkling wine using classic champagne grape varieties.
All grapes used in Nyetimber are grown on their own vineyards in Sussex and Hampshire. The Nyetimber Classic CuvÁe is one of England’s most popular sparkling wines.
A new vineyard on the chalk slopes of the North Downs in Hampshire. The first vines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, were planted in 2004. The wines are given three years of aging before sale.
Seyval Blanc is the main grape variety grown at Breaky Bottom. It makes clean Loire-style wines, neutral in character with a keen acidity. When left to mature, however the wine develops a wonderful depth and complexity.
Established in 1993, the Meopham Valley Vineyard is located on the North Downs of Kent. Their white, rosÁ and sparkling wines have won numerous awards in local, national and international competitions.
Brightwell Valley Vineyard is a frequent medal winner. They grow seven grape varieties; which are all picked by hand, to produce premier white, rosÁ, red and sparkling wines.
Oaken Grove Orchard
Established by an Italian family in 1985 with the vision to turn a 10 acre apple and pear orchard into a vineyard. Today, with more than 5,000 vines, Oaken Grove produces one of England's most loved dry white wines.
These awards winning vines were planted in 1973 and have since become Britain's largest vineyard. Their winery's house all stainless steel tanks with warm rooms for their French and American oak barriques.
Glyndwr Vineyard produces a range of award winning wines that have been carefully blended and fermented by their skilled wine making team for over a quarter of a century.
Situated near Camel River in Cornwell, Camel Valley have been creating wine since 1989. They couple traditional vineyard practice with a modern approach to wine making to produce award-winning sparkling wines.
Quoins is a small vineyard in countryside Bath, producing just three thousand bottles a year. Established in 2002 by Alan Chubb, this family run vineyard is committed to the organic production of wine.
Sharpham Estate produces some of England's most outstanding wines. Traditional and new world techniques are employed, resulting in a range of distinctive and carefully balanced wines.
Somborne Valley Estate
A quintessentially English family run vineyard set in the picturesque village of Somborne, in the heart of the Test Valley. Try the Somborne Valley Sparkling RosÁ for a great example of the style.
Wickham Row Ash
Planted in 1984, this vineyard has grown into a 40 acre estate with 10 different grape varieties. With gentle south facing slopes to maximise sunlight for ripening, Wickham produces some of England's most loved wines.
Leckford Vineyard is owned and operated by Waitrose. We have grown three grape varieties; Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, which will be turned into a sparkling wine with the help of winemakers at Ridgeview.
English wine producers are the most enthusiastic and passionate people, making aromatic whites with real purity of flavour; pretty roses with heaps of scented berry-fruit character; mellow plummy reds; and of course a raft of medal-winning, superlative fizz. If you haven't been bitten by the UK wine bug, then now is the time to throw your inhibitions to the wind and give home grown a try.
Becky Hull MW
Wine Buyer, English and Welsh wines
Ever since the Romans first landed on our shores, Britons have been in a long and dedicated relationship with the nectar they brought with them – wine. The longest vine in the world resides at Hampton Court Palace, planted from a cutting taken in Essex by Capability Brown in 1769. It’s still there to see in all its glory if you visit today.
An interesting dinner party fact is that there's evidence to suggest that Britons ‘invented’ the drink we now know as champagne. In 1662 the Brit Christopher Merret presented a paper to the Royal Society in London that documented the process of making traditional method sparkling wines - 30 years before the technique was discovered in Champagne.
So there's no denying that Britain has a long history with winemaking, but the industry has only come to fruition in the past decade. Many will argue that this is due to the implications of the contentious subject of global warming and its effect on English vine growth. It’s certainly true that average temperatures have been rising, and look set to continue to do so over the next couple of decades at least. This has led to a flurry of investment as our climate becomes more suitable for grape growing, with a new high of 448 commercial vineyards being recorded in the UK in 2013.
At Waitrose, we've always been supportive of local producers, and at one point we were selling nearly 70% of all the wine produced in the UK. We even have our own vineyard down on the Waitrose farm at Leckford in Hampshire and with much pride launched the first vintage of Leckford Estate Brut this year.
In sparkling wines local producers are creating some superlative quality wines. There are also some excellent still wines being produced, however, there's still some way to go in developing these in both quality and quantity before we can really make a splash on the international market.
Firstly there are the soils, which is where a wine is born. There's a seam of limestone that runs under the channel from the Champagne region in France up to the South Downs to give us a strong foundation. With our marginal climate we need to use grapes or styles of wine that suit early-ripening or less ripe grapes.
This is why you’ll find lots of still wines that use Germanic varieties – they’ve been grown in the cold for decades and the experience of the winemakers who have worked with them is valuable. The reason that sparkling wine works so well here is that the grapes need to be harvested much less ripe than would be required for still wine.
Nyetimber is the most famous UK winery, first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. They own all of their vineyards (which is quite unusual in the UK), and they grow only the traditional Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. In the last ten years under owner and chief executive Eric Heerema there has been significant investment in quality. With Cherie Spriggs at the winemaking helm, Nyetimber have won many medals and top accolades.
Ridgeview is a family business founded in 1994 by Mike and Chris Roberts. Like Nyetimber, they specialise in classic grape varieties and have had huge success on the international stage with their delicious wines. Waitrose are great fans of the winemaking and dedication to detail that Mike and his family maintain – so much so that we chose Ridgeview to help make our very own Leckford Estate Brut, with grapes grown at the Waitrose estate in Hampshire.
Chapel Down is very quality focused and has an inspirational new winemaker, Josh Donaghay-Spire. Josh graduated from Plumpton in East Sussex, so he's a real home-grown talent but has worked in South Africa, Alsace and Champagne. Chapel Down are known for their superb sparkling wine, but they also make some excellent still wines, including a single variety Bacchus - England’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc.
Denbies were one of the first producers to take English winemaking seriously on a commercial scale. They have recently invested a lot of money in state of the art equipment, replanting and cutting edge trials to improve grape quality and flavour intensity. While many English wine producers are channelling all of their enthusiasm towards sparkling wines (which Denbies do well too), they passionately believe that England can also make stunning still wines.
At Camel Valley, ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his son Sam make exquisite wines in a beautiful part of Cornwall. They have a huge collection of awards and medals and it's lovely to see that even amongst other producers nearby, who you might expect to be just a little jealous, they command so much affection and respect. It's a huge achievement that a family-run, English vineyard can build such a reputation on the international stage.
There are currently 450 commercial vineyards in the UK with over 1500 hectares of vines. The development of the industry has become a source of pride for the nation as local vineyards win award after award, challenging and often surpassing our European and New World counter parts.
Watch Waitrose wine expert Anne Jones explain more about the English and Welsh wine industry.