Glug! Local vineyards to support in English Wine Week
English wine is officially having a moment - and what better time to try it than in English Wine Week? Top up your glass with a drop from one of these local Bucks and Oxon vineyards.
What? This family-owned and run vineyard in Bucks is small but mighty, and grows all the traditional grape varieties to make excellent sparkling wines. There are plenty of tastings, tours and events throughout the year – plus, if you take part in one of their Volunteer Days, you get 10% off wine for the year. (Quick – race you to the hedge trimmers.)
Where? Daws Hill is set across three acres in Radnage, High Wycombe, in a Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty.
How do I try? You can buy directly from their online shop.
Stand-out sip Their Sparkling White (2016) won Best Sparkling Wine at the Thames and Chiltern Vineyard Association competition in 2021, but sadly it’s all sold out – so you’ll have to settle for the excellent Sparkling Rose (2016), which scooped Silver in the Sparkling Wine category.
What? Originally founded in 1972, this 3-acre Oxfordshire vineyard has gone from strength to strength after being bought by David and Eileen Bell in 2014. Their flagship sparkling wine, Hendred Brut, is a crisp and zesty sip made with Pinot Noir and Seyval blanc grapes – the perfect summer sip.
Where? East Hendred is just outside the South Oxon market town of Wantage, in the Vale of the White Horse – excellent for a spot of sight-seeing or rambling if you’re in the area.
How do I try? You can order online, either for free collection directly from the vineyard, or there’s free delivery for orders over £30 in the local area. Just outside their radius? There’s courier delivery too for an extra charge.
Stand-out sip It’s gotta be the Hendred Brut – their 2016 vintage was awarded Silver in the 2021 National WineGB competition, as well as Silver in the 2021 Thames and Chiltern Vineyard Association competition.
What? Hard to say how you’d hide a 42-acre vineyard in the Oxfordshire countryside, but wine-makers Fiona and Stephen Duckett have managed to do just that, keeping Hundred Hills under wraps for nearly ten years while they perfected its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines, sustainable winery and eco-friendly packaging.
Where? Near Pishill in The Stonor Valley, just north of Henley and a mere 1.5 miles from Muddy favourite Stonor Park. Apparently the chalky soil is almost indistinguishable from that in Côte des Blancs, Champagne – who knew?
How do I try? You can order from their online shop – with a juicy 15% discount on all wines collected from the cellar door – or you can try Preamble No. 1 and No. 2 at nearby Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Raymond Blanc is a big fan, saying, “The wines Stephen and Fiona are creating are amongst the very finest that I have tasted.” High praise indeed!
Stand-out sip Their inaugural Preamble 2016 First Edition is so in demand that it’s now only sold in cases of three from the winery – but it’s worth splashing out, as it recently made the Evening Standard’s list of 25 best wines to drink before you die.
What? Dinton is a proper local affair – and the best-kept secret of the region. The brainchild of retiree Laurie Kimber, who was at a loss as to what to do with a field he’d bought and decided to give vines a go, Dinton Wines has been producing since 2013 and now the entire family (and many of the locals) come out to harvest the grapes.
Where? It’s based in Aylesbury, overlooking the Chiltern Hills – a location well-known for excellent chalky soil (which means happy grapes!).
How do I try? You can buy directly from the vineyard by giving them a call on 01296 748187, or you can pick up a bottle at The Stables at Long Crendon Manor in Aylesbury or BeerGinVino in Haddenham. Want to try a glass before you commit to a bottle? Order a glass of Dinton Folly at The Seven Stars in Dinton, Hartwell House and Spa or The Broad Keys in Aylesbury.
Stand-out sip Pink fizz lovers, rejoice – your new favourite tipple is surely Dinton Folly Pink (2018), which won a Gold award at the Thames and Chiltern Vineyard Association competition in 2021.
What? Jan and Anthea Mirkowski set up shop in the chalky Chiltern hills back in 2011, planting 12,000 Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay vines (aka, the best blend for sparkling wine) across 7.5 acres. Now, the family-run vineyard makes classic cuvée and rosé sparkling wines that are scooping awards left, right and centre.
Where? As the name suggests, Fairmile – just outside the centre of Henley-on-Thames.
Stand-out sip Their inaugural Classic Cuvee from 2015 was voted England’s only ‘Outstanding’ sparkling white wine by Decanter back in Jan 2020, and the 2016 vintage is certainly living up to the hype, nabbing a Gold medal at the Independent English Wine Awards 2022 and Silver awards at both the Thames & Chilterns Vineyard Association competition 2020 and the WineGB Awards 2020.
What? If you’re just dipping a toe in English wines, Brightwell have plenty of excellent vintages under their belt for you to choose from, covering red, white, rosé and sparkling. They’re even home to one of the first English brandies!
Where? Just 8 miles outside of Oxford, the vineyard is sheltered in the lovely market town of Wallingford.
How do I try? Brightwell has a very handy map of stockists (it even shows you which wines are stocked in case you’re after a specific bottle), and Waitrose Cellar also have a selection available online.
Stand-out sip Brightwell’s red wines are particularly popular – their Pinot Noir (2016) won trophies for Best Wine Overall and Best Red Wine at the Thames and Chiltern Vineyard Association competition in 2021, so we recommend nabbing a bottle ASAP.
What? One of the bigger vineyards on this list, Chafor Wine Estate is a whopping 23-acre affair in the heart of rural Bucks. Owner Tim planted the vines from scratch back in 2003, and on colder days can be found lighting hundreds of candles to stave off frosts from his precious grapes. If that’s not dedication, we don’t know what is.
Where? Chafor sits just outside of Buckingham, in the countryside near Gawcott. The estate takes advantage of its rural surrounds with a lakeside picnic area and self-guided nature trial (to be undertaken before the wine is consumed, presumably).
Stand-out sip Bacchus is apparently becoming big news in English wines (it makes a great sauv blanc alternative), and Chafor’s Bacchus 2017 is one of their most popular drops.
Still thirsty? Take a look at more Muddy drinks recommendations here.
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