The title of this blog alone is enough to make a Frenchman choke on his Sauvignon Blanc.
‘English?’ … ‘Wine?’
However, although they may seem like two words as diametrically opposed as ‘French’ and ‘Pasty’, the simple fact is that the reputation of English wine in Europe is soaring, with some of the continent’s most renowned wine experts predicting that it’s set to be the next big thing.
Strangely enough, English wine is nothing new. Although stories of Julius Caesar bringing the vine to England may be apocryphal, there’s absolutely no doubt that by the Middle Ages wine was being produced in monasteries throughout the country. It was also being made long after the Dissolution, during the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s. It was only in the 20th century, for the first time in more than two millennia, that vines weren’t grown on a substantial scale.
But now, in the third millenium, England is rediscovering its wine-growing heritage. Spurred on by the success of a select few commercial vineyards towards the end of the last century—vineyards like Three Choirs near Newent, Gloucestershire, Denbies in Dorking, Surrey and Sharpham Vineyard in Devon, all of which won multiple Europe-wide awards—English wine is back in vogue, with new wine-growers helping contribute to something of a Renaissance. Over the last decade, thousands of acres of British land has been given over to winegrowing.
And it’s working too. In May, two relatively young English vineyards—Gusbourne and Hush Heath, both in Kent—won major prizes at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge, and other wines across the country have won big awards too. Our sparkling wines are even being served on the dining tables of Buckingham Palace.
So while it may take a while to change public perception (particularly the French public), the continent’s oenophiles are all in agreement. Europe beware … English wine is on the rise.