Gloucestershire Vineyard- Best Wine Producers

PUBLISHED: 10:45 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:53 20 February 2013

Picture by Andy Newbold photography

Picture by Andy Newbold photography

Think of the finest wine-growing areas of the world and what springs to mind? The golden estates of southern France, the blue sky regions of South Africa, the sunshine states of Australia or perhaps the sun-kissed county...

The golden estates of southern France, the blue sky regions of South Africa, the sunshine states of Australia or perhaps the sun-kissed county of Gloucestershire....

Doesn't quite roll off the tongue in the same way, does it? But the fact is that wines from the UK have ceased to be a rarity and, let's face it, a bit of a joke. They are becoming more and more popular, and not just because of climate change, the adverse exchange rates or even the fashion for all things local to reduce the carbon footprint. It is predominantly because there are some excellent wines now being produced close to home.

For a little bit more expert info I turned to our good friend, Paul Livesey,Wine Development Manager for the North of England for WaverleyTBS, who really knows his stuff. There are some 383 vineyards in the UK producing two million bottles per year and the UK Vineyards Association is recognised by the Government.

As you would imagine, the majority of vineyards are based in the South with Three Choirs, Gloucestershire, Lamberhurst in Kent and Denbies in Surrey being some of the best-known producers. However, the association is made up of six representative bodies for vineyard and wine enthusiasts, and the Mercian Vineyards Association also lists members from Durham and Northumbria. lists many of the English and Welsh commercial vineyards in England and Wales, which cover about 2,000 acres of land in total.

Most English and Welsh vineyards are small (less than five acres), many very small (less than one acre). Only a small number exceed 25 acres and just a handful 50 acres. The largest, Denbies, has around 200 acres of vines under cultivation. Of course, vineyards in the more traditional wine growing countries can run into many hundreds of acres. But size isn't always important - it's what you plant that counts.

Paul says: 'The style of white wines, because of our climate, tends to be fresh, crisp with floral bouquets and high acidity, whereas the reds tend to be much lighter in style similar to Beaujolais. 'A plethora of unusual grape varieties such as Magdalen Rivaner, Bacchus, Madeline Angevine, Huxelrebe and many more are grown as they are cool climate grapes best suited to our weather.'

As we spring into Spring, the wines are great for outdoor picnics, salads and light meat dishes. Many of the vineyards have visitor centres and facilities for buying at the 'Cellar Door'. If you are down that way, Three Choirs is particularly worth a visit as they also boast an award-winning restaurant, accommodation and a brewery as well. English sparkling wines also get the thumbs up.

Paul says: 'If you are thinking of sparkling wines from England, Nyetimber from West Sussex is the first one that springs to mind. Made in the same way as Champagne, with the same grape varieties, they were voted UK wine producer of the year for 2008.

'The sparkling wines constantly win awards and often out perform some of the most prestigious Champagnes in blind tastings. Indeed, the Queen often serves it at state banquets.'We might not always get the sunshine of South America or California to nurture our vines, but we in the UK are nothing if not determined.

There's never been a better time to buy local. Wine Fact: British wines are made from grape concentrates imported into the UK in bulk and is a manufactured product. Not to be confused with English and Welsh wines which are made from grapes grown only in the UK.

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