Glug! Vineyards in the Berkshire ‘hood
English wine is officially having a moment – and what better time to try it than in English Wine Week (19-27 June)? Top up your glass with a drop from one of these local Berkshire vineyards.
Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Twyford
What? Stanlake Park is without question the most famous vineyard in Berkshire. Planted in 1979 by Jon Leighton following a stint living in Australia, the initial 500 vines of 30 different varieties have ballooned to 10,000 vines occupying 25 acres of the estate.
Where? It’s based in Twyford – a location that’s relatively flat land with clay, loam and sandy soils – which means happy grapes!.
How do I try? You can buy direct from the Stanlake’s online cellar shop or pick up a bottle at The Tasting House in Reading, Hare Hatch Sheeplands Farm Shop and Rebellion Brewery in Marlow. The wine tours are fab, so book up when we’re allowed out again and be sure to have a taxi on standby.
Stand-out sip The award-winning Bacchus is fruity English white wine, and is a lip-smacking local alternative your Sauvignon blanc or Picpoul do Pinet. We’re also big fans the Pinot Noir Rosé.
All Angels Vineyard, Enborne
What? All Angels is a small family-run vineyard in West Berkshire. The vines were planted in 2010 over three hectares, and the hand-harvested grapes are transformed into an excellent English sparkling by Emma Rice, Director and Head Winemaker of the established Hattingley Valley. A new sparkling red was launched in 2020 – Angels 340 – using Rondo grapes harvested in 2015. Work is well on the way on a new vineyard on the site that will include varieties to produce still wines too.
Where? It’s right next door to the 12th century St Michael and All Angels church in Enbourne, just south of Newbury. Its location is south facing, and the soil is fully loaded with sandy loam and a good deposit of flint. Cracking conditions for those fizz grapes to grow
How do I try? Easy peasy, just hop over to the vineyard’s online shop. Alternatively, pop into Muddy award-winning Inn At Home or SJ Wines – both in Newbury or The Naked Grape in Hungerford.
Stand-out sip? The award-winning All Angels Classic Cuvée 2014 – a great sparkling with a luxurious feel.
Winding Wood Vineyard, Hungerford
What? Winding Wood is a small boutique vineyard with just 3,000 vines of pinot noir and chardonnay. It has been a decade of blood, sweat and tears to transform this small holding into a successful vineyard. Once the sheep were evicted, co-owners Christopher Cooke and Robert Louth put in the back breaking work to creating their sparkling wines.
Where? It’s a stones throw from Hungerford in West Berkshire with gentle southeast facing slopes. The chalky soil and early morning sun create the perfect conditions for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. .
How do I try? Pay the guys a visit. They offer guided tours and wine tastings at the vineyard. The wine is made by Hattingley Valley in over the border in Hants, but you can waft around the wines, see how the grapes are processed and, more importantly, taste the end result. Bottles can be purchased via the online shop or in local farm shops.
Stand-out sip? There are not three vintages, but Winding Wood’s 2016 Classic Cuvée has won a clutch of awards including gold at the wine world’s answer to the BAFTAs.
Alder Ridge, Hungerford
What? Alder Ridge is a proper local affair – and the best-kept secret of the region. The vineyard at Cobbs Farm in Hungerford has been producing since 2013 after planting five acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. A further two acres of classic Champagne vines were added in 2015, all lovingly looked after by Jayne and Alison, who are in charge of all the farm’s crops.
Where? It’s based in Hungerford, in the North Wessex Downs – a location well-known for excellent chalky soil.
How do I try? You can buy directly from the vineyard, or pop into Cobbs Farm Shops in Englefield and Hungerford. But you’ll also find it at The Naked Grape in Hungerford and The Wine Man in Yattendon.
Stand-out sip The 2014 Blanc de Noirs picked up gold at the WineGB awards. This is the vineyard’s flagship sparkling English wine and is a bubblicious local alternative to Champagne.
Windsor Great Park Vineyard, Windsor
What? With the amount of entertaining the royals do, a vineyard is a must. Dignitaries are a thirsty lot. A vineyard was first planted in Windsor during Henry II’s reign. Fast forward to today, and the Queen has created a new three-hectare vineyard in Windsor Great Park, under the stewardship of Tony Laithwaite and his team at Laithwaite’s Wine.
Where? A modest three hectares of Windsor Great Park’s 2,000 is set aside for classic Champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – on a gentle south-facing slope that overlooks a small lake and has ancient oak trees providing a natural windbreak. As locations go, it’s pretty darn perfect.
How do I try? Short of being invited to a state dinner, you can order from Laithwaite’s website.
Stand-out sip? There’s only one to choose from the Windsor Great Park English Sparkling Wine 2015 with its biscuity aromas and creamy apricot taste.
ONES TO WATCH
Watch this space! Rowles Farm in West Ilsley – if you don’t follow them on Instagram you should for their funny and mindful farm content. Their brand new Bacchus and Pinot Noir vineyard has just been planted and should yield wine within four years. Gasping already.
Gasping for a drink? Stagger this way for more drinkspiration.