What better way to spend a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon than by heading over to the Woodchester Valley Vineyard & Winery to experience a tour and tastings? At times like this, I don’t think my ‘job’ can get any better! With its award winning English still and sparkling wines from vines planted in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Beauty, this family owned vineyard and winery was hands down the best afternoon out I’ve had in ages- and His Lordship was driving! Cin cin!
On arrival there was a very warm welcome from our guides Lauren and Adam and a lovely cool glass of the vineyard’s chilled Bacchus white wine. Now that’s what I call a proper welcome. The 2017 Bacchus is an aromatic dry white wine and I was hooked at first sip. Before I moved to the Cotswolds I would never have thought of trying wine from my own country but as Lauren explained, climate change has effectively worked in our favour in the successful production of fine English wine and its popularity has increased accordingly. In fact 68% of the wine produced in the UK is sparkling which is more suited to a cooler climate and our type of soil. Who would have thought it?
During the initial presentation, the extremely knowledgeable, engaging and confident Lauren took us through the history of Woodchester Valley Vineyard. A boutique estate across three vineyard sites, it covers covers 45 acres and is nestled in the very heart of the South Cotswolds close to Stroud. The first one-year-old vines were planted in 2007 at Amberley Vineyard and it took about four to five years for this wine to be ready for picking. I’m not too sure I’d be patient enough to wait that long but in this case fabulous things most certainly do come to those who wait. In 2016 grapes were harvested at the vineyard and then bottled and labeled elsewhere but now Woodchester Vineyard and Winery is proud to say that the whole process is carried out in house.
During the presentation I was amazed to learn how much work goes into producing my wine! All grapes are hand picked by a picking team of 10 with the average amount of grapes picked per day is 5.2 tons and the record for the most grapes picked being actually 10 tons! That’s a lot of grapes to press! Bottling and labelling is also no mean feat. During the Beast from the East last winter, hairdryers and heaters had to be used to make the labels stick. Such sacrifice for such a great cause is appreciated.
After a really interesting, funny and honest presentation by Lauren who quite unbelievably confessed later that it was her first time doing so, it was off to see the vines and find out more about the process of making wine at Woodchester Vineyard and Winery. In the bottling room, we discovered that when the bottling machine is at full speed, it could produce around 2000 bottles per hour. Well that should keep me going for at least a week?
After the tour it was back to the tasting room and time to get down to business as we were given the chance to taste a selection of six fabulous wines including our original award winning glass of Bacchus ………… But not before we had been given a few top wine-tasting tips, which I’m not up for sharing- a bit like my wine really. You’ll just have to head over there yourself if you want to find out more!
During the tasting, we were able to sample the ‘full bodied’ Orpheus Bacchus, the ‘delicious’ Culver Hill named after the first vineyard, a ‘refreshing, full bodied’ Rosé made from Regent grapes and last but by no means least, a glass of Cotswold Classic 2016 sparkling wine made with 100% Seyval Grapes. Whilst I was in wine heaven, I dispatched His Lordship to the bar to make a few purchases although he seemingly cannot count to six as he returned with four bottles instead! Men!?
From grape to glass, this was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon and I would definitely recommend a visit. Thank you to Woodchester Valley Vineyard for inviting His Lordship and I to experience the Tour and Tastings. I’ll be back soon to pick up those final two bottles.