Book Review: Sparkling Wine (Vineyards of England and Wales)

Bluebell Vineyard
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A note to my readers: None of us can travel during the current coronavirus crisis. However I am continuing to post content for you to enjoy at home and to inspire your future travels. Happy reading and stay safe!

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It would be hard to ignore the revolution that has taken place in British winemaking in recent years. Although the Romans planted vineyards in England, winemaking later became a minority interest, mostly confined to monasteries or aristocratic estates. But now there are more than 600 vineyards in England and Wales, many of them producing award winning wines.

Sparkling Wine: Vineyards of England and Wales
Sparkling Wine: the Vineyards of England and Wales

Most of these vineyards are small and free from mass commercialisation, and winemaking is still the province of enthusiasts. This means that now is a good time to visit British vineyards. To help you in your quest Stewart Wilde has written Sparkling Wine: Vineyards of England and Wales, a description of more than 50 wineries that produce sparkling wines.

Vineyards in England and Wales

The book begins with a brief introduction and a description of sparkling wine grape varieties. Then it lists details of some of the vineyards in England and Wales that produce sparkling wines (most, although not all, of these are in the southern part of the country, where the climate is more suited to grape growing),

Bluebell Vineyard
Bluebell Vineyard, East Sussex (image copyright Sutherland Photograph)

Each entry includes everything you need to know for visiting, with details of visiting times and locations. There is factual information about terrain and aspect, and the wines produced, together with tasting notes.

Wine and Winemakers

But this is not just a handbook. Each entry has a short account of the history of the vineyard and of the people associated with it – the owners, the winemakers, and the awards they have won. There are some interesting snippets. I was fascinated to learn that the Wroxeter Roman winery in Shropshire may have “taken root on the site of a Roman vineyard”. And that rosé from Hush Heath Estate in Kent “has been served to first-class flyers with British Airways and passengers aboard the Orient Express”.

Grapes at Hattingley Valley Vineyard
Collecting the grapes at Hattingley Valley, Hampshire (image copyright ACC Art Books)

Some of the vineyards listed also have restaurants or accommodation. Of course, they all have wine for sale, and often locally produced cider and other products. Sparkling Wine is perfect for planning a wine-themed holiday. Or just for exploring your local area.

Sparkling Wine: The Vineyards of England and Wales, Stewart Wilde, ACC Art Books, 2019, 9781851499052

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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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