The Wine Regions of England and Wales
The UK is well known for producing a wide array of ales, ciders, meads and artisan gins. When it comes to wine however, Brits are better at drinking it than making it. Or are they? For many years, the UK was considered too cold and wet for growing the grape varieties used in wine making.
Over the past decade or so however, an increasing number of vineyards have sprung up along the south of England and Wales. Spreading from Cornwall to Kent, and across Wales, these vineyards have started to produce some world class wines. Some regions are even giving Champagne a run for its money in recent competitions.
With a little help from global warming, English wines and Welsh wines are beginning to make their mark. Below are some of the best wine making regions in the UK.
For many years, Kent was famous for hop production. Nowadays however, there’s a new plant in town. Kent’s chalky soil is not dissimilar to that found in France’s Champagne region, and the warmer weather enjoyed by the ‘Garden of England’ in comparison to the rest of the country, ensures a bountiful harvest of juicy grapes each year.
Famous for some of the best English sparkling wines, the vineyards of Kent have attracted famous Champagne producers, Taittinger, who have recently purchased land in the county. There are in excess of 50 vineyards now producing English wines in Kent, with Biddenden and Chapel Down being notable names.
Neighbouring Kent is the county of Sussex, which also enjoys limestone chalk soils and a relatively warm and dry climate. The soil here is even more similar to the Champagne region, and classic sparkling wine grapes such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are commonly grown in the region. On average, Sussex is slightly cooler than Kent, which gives the grapes just the right amount of acidity for superb English sparkling wine.
As well as sparkling wine, the Bolney Wine Estate produces some of the best English red wine in the world. Its Pinot Noir more than stands up to other global contenders, with cherry notes and a medium body.
Welsh wine makers are enjoying a boom as warmer temperatures allow them to create award winning white and red wines. Indeed, a growing number of Welsh wine stockists around the world have approached numerous vineyards across the country.
But it’s not only English sparkling wines that are worth getting excited about. In 2012, Welsh winery Ancre Hill Estates’ 2008 Sparkling Wine was voted the best sparkling wine in the world at the Bollicine del Mondo International Wine Competition in Italy.
The Future of Wine in the UK
As long as the weather continues to improve, England and Wales look set to introduce ever more wineries and vineyards. More and more regions are producing fantastic wines, and more and more Welsh and English wine merchants are beginning to stock them. East Anglia, Cornwall and Hampshire are other regions that are putting English wine on the map.
Besides the wine itself, wine tourism is coming to the UK, with tasting tours and overnight stays becoming a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. On top of that, it’s easier than ever to buy great Welsh and English wines online, making it available around the world.