The Sparkle of English Still wine

The vineyards at Bolney Estate, one of the older vineyards, seen from the winery café

It was a lovely summer’s day and I was with friends, sipping a rosé from the adjacent vineyard. I could so easily have been in the south of France, but no, I was in England, at Albury Vineyards in the Surrey Hills, just south of London. Such has been the success of Albury’s Silent Pool Rosé, that Nick Wenman was planting more Pinot Noir and the occasion was a celebration of his new vineyard. It was a magical moment.

England and Wales have been establishing a solid reputation for sparkling wines over the past 20 years or so, since Ridgeview swept the board at the United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) annual competition with their range of sparkling wines. Back in 2012 there were 419 vineyards with 124 wineries. Now there are 800 vineyards with 178 wineries, with Wales accounting for just 1.5% of the UK’s production. The area under vines now totals 3,800 hectares, double that of eight years ago. Sparkling wine accounts for 64% of the production, but recently there has been a growing emphasis on still wines, with a considerable improvement in quality. Indeed, there are wineries that prefer to concentrate on still rather than sparkling wine, such as Stopham Vineyard and Bolney Estate.

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