Hampshire sparkles when it comes to wine

Sparkling Hampshire is offering wine lovers a chance to enjoy visits with extra fizz this summer and beyond, thanks to new attractions and experiences at award-winning wineries.

While the UK’s wine industry may be a newcomer compared to those of France, Spain and Italy, English sparkling wine has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and Hampshire can lay claim to producing some of the best.

Helped by the warm climate and similar chalky terrain to the Champagne region, the county is home to a host of vineyards, many of which offer tours and tastings.

For 2021, vineyard visitors can sample experiences with added cheer, ranging from dining amongst the vines – or tucking into a sparkling afternoon tea – to a pop-up summer glamping site on a historic estate, which is home to one of Hampshire’s newest vineyards.

And new investment will offer wine lovers even more across the county’s rolling vineyards, with new visitor centres and tasting facilities planned over the next year or so.

Visit the oldest vineyard in England, Hambledon, now amongst the country’s leading sparkling wine producers, and not only can you tour the vineyards, state of the art winery and underground cellars cut into white chalk, but also dine alfresco amongst the grapes.

‘Dine in the vines’ is a new offering, where you can sit amid the vines and enjoy local produce – chalk stream trout, cheese, charcuterie, bread and, of course, Hambledon’s classic cuvée rose (https://bit.ly/3d97MUO). It also offers a Sparkling Afternoon Tour and Tea for Two, an extravagant selection of hand-made picnic treats enjoyed amongst the vines.

Planted in 1952 under the guidance of France’s famous champagne house, Pol Roger, Hambledon is the only gravity-fed winery in the UK, and currently completing a new visitor centre and tasting room above extended wine storage in an underground cellar, which is expected to open late 2021 or early 2022.

Over at The Black Chalk Estate, which lies on the banks of the River Test, new expansion means that it now includes four vineyard sites, all within the Test Valley, while a new winery opened last autumn, which, along with a remodelled shop and tasting room, features tours and tastings (https://bit.ly/3jaCNvo).

Black Chalk offers a tree-tops experience with a difference too, thanks to a recently opened exclusive small development of luxury treehouses, operated by Wild Escapes, in woodland flanking the vineyard (https://bit.ly/3d8WArj). For guests staying there, a new tour offers a private guided visit to the vineyard before returning to their treehouse terrace for a tutored tasting of Black Chalk wines with vineyard views.

One of Hampshire’s newest offerings is the 30-acre vineyard of The Grange, a family enterprise created in 2011 by four siblings, which sits on a south-facing slope of the Hampshire Downs overlooking the crystal-clear waters of the River Itchen.

Owned by the family of the man who founded Barings Bank, the Grange Estate is famous for its 18th Century country house, one of the most celebrated neo-classical mansions in Britain, and for the surrounding English parkland, which every summer hosts an opera festival. The vineyard itself currently offers tours and tastings, while due to be open in 2022 is a new winery, enabling in-house production to increase to around 65,000 bottles a year, and offering an improved visitor experience (https://bit.ly/3vUCOpT).

New for summer 2021, this iconic Hampshire estate will host a tailor-made group glamping experience, located less than three miles from The Grange’s Burge’s Field vineyards. Luxuriously furnished with 10 bell tents, a huge central tipi feature and a large firepit at the heart of it all, the site from Kymani can be hired either exclusively to large groups, or by smaller groups who can share the site (open June and July 2021, https://bit.ly/35Jz4wM).

Elsewhere in the county, while the annual Winchester Wine Festival has come to an end after eight years and seven festivals, wine is still very much on the menu at a new food and drink venue, opened this year in the historic Abbey Mill in the middle of Winchester’s famous Abbey Gardens. Completely refurbished with restaurant, grill, café, wine room, bottle shop and terrace overlooking the gardens, the Inn on the Park’s Wine Room is a decadent vaulted room offering a retreat for wine lovers (www.innthepark.co.uk).

Visit Hampshire has a special section on its website featuring vineyard attractions and tours: https://bit.ly/3p8ZXCN

For general tourist information about Hampshire, see www.visit-hampshire.co.uk.