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? 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 – guaranteed to lift the spirits in lockdown.
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 buy direct from the vineyard themselves (browse the wines here and then drop them an email letting them know what you’re after), or from Hendred Village Stores, QGardens Farm Shop or Millets.
Stand-out sip Their super-fruity Hendred Rosé recently won Best Rosé at the Thames and Chilterns Vineyards Association competition 2019.
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 Loddon Brewery in Reading, The Deli at No 5 in Thame or The Stables at Long Crendon Manor.
Stand-out sip The award-winning Dinton Folly is the vineyard’s flagship sparkling English wine, and is a lip-smacking local alternative to champagne..
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? As well as local farm shops and wine stores, you can find Brightwell wines at nearby Waitrose and Midcounties Co-Ops. Waitrose Cellar also have a selection available online.
Stand-out sip Brightwell’s red wines are particularly popular – our top pick is their Oxford Regatta (2015), a dry, medium-bodied mouthful with plenty of stone fruit flavours.
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. Tours are particularly popular (although obviously on hold for now).
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, or from the Peterley Manor Farm Shop.
Stand-out sip Their Sparkling White (2013) won Gold in the Thames and Chiltern Vineyard Association’s Sparkling Wine category.
What? The biggest vineyard 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.
What? The oldest vineyard in Oxfordshire, Bothy Vineyard dates back to 1978 (plenty of time to get things right, then). Since Sian and Richard Liwicki took over in 2007, the vineyard has a rep for producing wines that are delicious and sustainable in equal measure.
Where? Frilford Heath, Oxon, just six miles from Oxford. The space is also available to hire for events (hello, Muddy summer parties).
How do I try? You can buy from the vineyard directly – during lockdown, they’re delivering orders of 6 or more bottles for free locally. Otherwise, bottles may be found at Hendred Stores, Saddleback Farm stores, East West Provisions in Oxford and Added Ingredients in Abingdon, among others.
Stand-out sip Doctor’s Bacchus (2018) scooped a gold medal at 2019’s Thames and Chiltern Vineyard Association awards. We’re ready for our medicine, doctor!
Still thirsty? Take a look at more Muddy drinks recommendations here.