Behind The Blue Door

Afternoon Tea | January 13, 2016 |

Step aside Chablis:

eight English vineyards to watch



Gone are the days when simply name-dropping a few wine regions – Chablis, Chianti or Bordeaux – was to identify a big velvety bold from a piquant with a fragrant nose.

But in a tough global market, English wines are now breaking rank with their European counterparts and hot-footing it towards a healthy harvest of world-class awards. Profiting from an exceptional year, which has seen 6.4m bottles produced, English vineyards have reached unchartered territory, surpassing anything we’’ve ever seen in this country.

Here’’s a handful of homegrown wines winning acclaim in the wine world:

Ridgeview, East Sussex

Fizz-lovers will welcome this splash of Sussex delight. The award-winning Grosvenor, Fitzrovia and Cavendish are among the most popular bubbles here, with notes of biscuit, honey and strawberry to rouse the palate.

Our choice: The Ridgeview Bloomsbury offers freshness and finesse, making it the perfect accompaniment to shellfish and canapes. An elegant celebration wine.


Image source: RidgeviewWine/Facebook

Denbies, Surrey

Much-feted as one of the more renowned vineyards – but don’’t let its popularity put you off, there’’s plenty to celebrate here. Denbies is a wine-buff’’s paradise, with seven acres of footpaths to meander through and multi-award-winning wines to indulge in. If that’’s not enough to tempt you, try their tour, on England’’s first vineyard train.

Our choice: Dessert wine Denbies Noble Harvest has won accolades for its citrus and honey flavours.


Image source: Denbies/Website

Chapel Down, Tenterden

Boasting a bounty of awards, this vineyard is set squarely in the garden of England and plays host to its own acclaimed on-site restaurant, The Swan. Chapel Down claims that it resists the baggage of tradition, to offer wine for the discerning modern palate.

Our choice: The Chapel Down Flint Dry, with a hint of citrus, greengage, apricot and floral aromas is one best-loved by the buffs.


Image source: ChapelDown/Website

Carr Taylor, East Sussex

Family-run Carr Taylor is now run by Alex Carr Taylor, whose parents, Linda and David, planted the vineyard when he was a toddler. Alex literally grew up among the vines, giving him a huge depth of experience that shows in the company’’s products.

Our choice: Carr Taylor ginger wine has two gold Great Taste Awards to its name. Drink alone, mix into a whisky mac or use it to spice up desserts.


Image source: CarrTaylor/Facebook

Nyetimber, West Sussex

Nyetimber is devoted to the holy trinity of champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir.

Chief wine-maker Cheri Spriggs loves to wax lyrical about her collection, describing a complex blend as ‘a symphony with more octaves in the soprano and alto sections than the bass’.

Our choice: Fancy a hint of short-crust pastry in your glass? Look no further than the Nyetimber Rosé. Full and round but with a soft texture, it’’s great for entertaining with wine-wise guests.


Image source: Nyetimber/Facebook

Three Choirs, Gloucestershire

Being one of England’’s oldest vineyards doesn’’t mean Three Choirs is stuck in the dark ages. In fact, it is winning modern awards with a set of unique processes which have won it an international following.

Our choice: Willow Brook is lightly spiced with gentle aromas of rose petals. Lawn, friends, sunshine and Wild Strawberry wine goblets optional – but highly recommended.



Image source: ThreeChoirs/Website

Camel Valley, Cornwall

With a spot on the sun-drenched slopes along the Camel River, could this be the most idyllic setting for a vineyard? It’’s certainly been mooted. Shortlisted in 2014 for international sparkling winemaker of the year, the secret of Camel Valley’’s success is simple, says owner Bob Lindo: top quality produce.

“”You’d be surprised how many customers say they first tried a glass of our wine at Tate Modern in London and felt they just had to come and visit the vineyard,” he chuckles.

Our choice: Hedgerows and apple orchards make for a truly English toast, with the award-winning ‘Cornwall’ Pinot Noir Rose Brut.

Camel valley

Image source: CamelValley/Website

Ryedale Vineyards, North Yorkshire

Halting the debate over any north/south divide, one of the latest wineries to bag a handful of prestigious awards, Ryedale Vineyards, is the brainchild of Stuart Smith, who argues that owning one of the country’’s northernmost vineyards doesn’t hamper the harvest:

“You can grow grapes if you have a good site and warm, sunny conditions,” he asserts, “We have good summers like everyone else.””

Our choice: Summerhouse Red is a light, berry-tinged wine for those in the know.


Image source: Ryedale/Website

Serve up your favourite English wine at twilight tea – trust us, it’s the next afternoon tea.


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What better stemware for England’s finest wines than one of England’s classic designs? Wedgwood’s Wild Strawberry collection will add just the right hint of an English summer.

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