Visit one of the UK’s oldest vineyards (Worcs) or sleep amongst the vines (Glos)
Astley Vineyards (Worcestershire)
Telephone: 01299 822907
Producer profile from 11th Edition – Updated
Once the most northerly vineyard in the world, Astley Vineyard was established in the Severn Valley 10 miles north of Worcester in 1971. The original founders, the Bache Family were visionaries, planting varieties such as Madeleine Angeline and Siegerrebe decades before their potential in England was realised Jonty Daniels then owned snd ran the vineyard for 24 years until his retirement in 2017. Jonty’s objective was to achieve a consistency of production which endeavours to emulate the traditional goal of the winemaker that a wine should reflect a specific geographical location or terroir. Husbandry was based on an overall pest management approach that limits chemical intervention and, wherever possible, adheres to natural controls rather than industrial ones. Main grape varieties now are Kerner, Madeleine Angevine, Siegerrebe and Bacchus. In 2017 the Vineyard changed hands and is now owned by the local Haywood Family. The estate wishes to remain small as much in tune with ecological sensitivity as with modest commercial advance. Astley specialises in still wines but their 100% Kerner sparkling wine, is a rich original cuvée. Wines are produced from a single 5 acre (2 ha) vineyard site with no bought-in grapes and are sold as single varietals (Madelaine Angevine, Bacchus) as well as the blend “Sabrina” (Siegerrebe and Bacchus) and the medium dry “Severn Vale” (Madelaine Angevine, Bacchus and Kerner). A late harvest Kerner and an Old Vine Kerner, produced from the vines originally planted in 1971 in limited quantity, complete the range. There is a new wine shop and improved tourist visits. (NB)
Vineyard tour and wine tasting, £20.00. for individuals, couples or larger groups up to 16.
The Haywood family note that they “love our own wines, but we are a family of epicureans at heart“. The next tasting event is on 8th September and you can book here.
Directions to the vineyard and cellar door shop can be found here.
There is an online shop so that even if you are not heading to Worcestershire you can try the wines.
Three Choirs (Gloucestershire)
Telephone: 01531 890223
Producer profile from 11th Edition – Updated
Top-quality and long-established English property founded in 1973 and now with 30 ha (75 acres) of vineyards, the majority planted to a generally southerly aspect on well-drained sandstone soils. There is a warm meso-climate in this corner of Gloucestershire and crucially lower than average rainfall. Good dry and sweet whites are made as well as sparkling non-vintage and vintage bottlings. Reds also include some good Pinot Noir. Considerable effort has gone into grape crossing and hybrid research because of the vagaries of the English climate and the results have been generally very successful. The Bacchus dry white has long been a key wine here and winemaker and vineyard director Martin Fowke would like to plant more but it offers a very poor crop in difficult years. The Siegerrebe is also impressive, fresh and zesty. Willow Brook is an aromatic off-dry white blend of Siegerrebe, Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner and Orion. The rosé is a combination of Triomphe for colour and Seyval Blanc providing a good backbone and fresh lively acidity. Sparkling wine is also made, although the feeling here is that the English explosion in new vineyard planting for sparkling wine production may be over ambitious. The Classic Cuvée Brut is made in a deliberately fruit driven style rather than looking for more complex secondary yeast derived flavours. The winery also owns Wickham Vineyard in Hampshire. Wines are no longer made there but the vines provide fruit for a Hampshire Oak Aged Red from Triomphe, Rondo and Dornfelder as well a Hampshire Rosé which is vinified from a blend of 90% Triomphe, Rondo, Dornfelder and 10% of Kerner and Wurzer. Three Choirs is also a significant resource for contract winemaking for small vineyard clients across the country providing state of the art winemaking facilities as well as providing sparkling wine ageing and disgorging. For visitors there is a gourmet restaurant and hotel overlooking the vineyards and also now a number of exclusive chalets among the vines. (DM)
Please call the number above to reserve your place on their vineyard tour and wine tasting experience as numbers are limited. £12.50 per person, 1.5 hours. Available at 11.30 every Wednesday, Friday & Saturday.
If you stay at Three Choirs there is a Winery Tour & Tasting experience every day at 16.00 for residents only.
Whether visiting for a day or staying amongst the vines the Brasserie is open from Tuesday to Sunday and you can book online here.
“When the vines sleep for the night, so can you. Stay in our Vineyard View Rooms, then start the next day with fresh coffee on your veranda. Maybe you prefer the luxury of our Vineyard Lodge, right at the heart of the vineyard. Whatever you choose, peace and comfort follow closely behind“. Booking details here.
Visit the Three Choirs online shop.
Read the full profiles?
Various options here! Obtain a digital version of the full 11th edition or if coffee table books appeal you can order the hardback print version. Consider joining the Club behind the label which will entitle you to download the digital version as part of your membership cost and access other offers, aspire to Michelin Star style cooking this summer and try all Sonia Blech’s mouth watering recipes!