English wine is on the rise. In 2014, 6.3 million bottles of sparkling and still wine was made, toppling the previous record of 4.3 million bottles in 2013, and there are now over 400 wineries and nearly 30 different varieties to choose from in the UK.
With the return of the annual English Wine Week, a national campaign designed to raise awareness of English wine across the country, from supermarkets to delicatessens to pubs, bars and restaurants, take a look at five of the best English wines to enjoy this bank holiday weekend.
Digby Wines have curated relationships with farms across the entire south-east of London, leading to the formation of the some of the most delicious Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay wines. Their latest wine however is a collaboration with Harvey Nichols, a crisp and fresh English Sparkling Brut. Digby are English fizz masters, and their blenders have taken the Chardonnay and Pinot noir grapes to create a sparkling wine which offers notes of citrus and white stone fruit aroma.
Digby Wines new English Sparkling is available exclusively at Harvey Nichols
Camel Valley have been making award-winning English wines for nearly three decades and are the oldest vineyard in England. Set in the heart of Cornwall, an idyllic setting near the Camel River, the vineyard is known for its Bacchus Dry, an aromatic blend of citrus and green apples. Fresh and vibrant, the wine is the perfect aperitif - and a firm favourite of the Duchess of Cornwall, who regularly orders from the farm, Camel Valley owner Bob Lindo tells HELLO! Online. "We have supplied St James’s Palace on several occasions," he adds. "More recently Her Majesty the Queen served Camel Valley at a state banquet in Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles served it at the Commonwealth conference in Sri Lanka."
Camel Valley wines are made in the stunning slopes of the Camel River
Specialising in white wines, Stopham Vineyards is set in an area on the South Downs National Park and surrounded by outstanding natural beauty. Founded in 2007 by a former Formula1 engineer, "with the aim of making the best English still white wines", the Vineyard is best known for their gorgeous blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc vine, creating wines with excellent balance. Refreshing yet full in body, the Pinot Gris in particular has a delicate citrus finish - and is one of the few wines not many can grow in England.
Stopham Vineyards are known for their delicious Pinot Gris
One of England's most exciting drinks companies, Chapel Down are based in Kent and have gained the support of celebrity chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. "We are from a nation that does drink extremely well," says CEO Frazer Thompson. "But it's no longer just world-beating beer, whisky, and gin. English wine is the rising star of one of our most internationally renowned industries." With their farms in the south-east coast of England ripe with the iconic chalk soil - also found in the region of Champagne, only 90 miles to the south in France - it's no surprise that Chapel Down were recently named one of the UK government’s top 50 British food and drink producers.
Chapel Down will be offering tours and special offers throughout English Wine Week
Established in 2008 by wine fanatics who have over 50 years of wine experience between them, Litmus Wines aim to "push the boundaries and do great things with sparkling wine." Their grapes are carefully grown over several farms and then come together to be hand harvested. Their White Pinot is made from 100 per cent Pinot Noir grapes and makes for a rich and smooth wine with aromas of spice, honey, and melon.
The businessman behind Litmus Wines have over 50 years of experience
With thanks to Head Sommelier, Diego Muntoni of OXO Tower Restaurant.