Top 5 Cotswold vineyards for English Wine Week

PUBLISHED: 16:31 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:50 18 June 2020

These Cotswold wine makers are producing some world class wines (photo: Rostislav_Sedlacek, Getty Images)

These Cotswold wine makers are producing some world class wines (photo: Rostislav_Sedlacek, Getty Images)

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English Wine Week is a celebration of the great producers of the country, organised by WineGB. This year the week runs from Saturday 20th June to Sunday 28th June to mark the start of a glorious summer of wine. Here, The Wine Tipster tours us through his top 5 Cotswold vineyards to look out for during English Wine Week

English Wine Week is a celebration of the great producers of the country, organised by WineGB. This year the week runs from Saturday 20th June to Sunday 28th June to mark the start of a glorious summer of wine. Here, The Wine Tipster tours us through his top 5 Cotswold vineyards to look out for during English Wine Week.

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Bothy Vineyard

As Oxfordshire’s oldest winery and vineyard, positioned in the Vale of the White Horse, Bothy Vineyard is steeped in tradition with a keen focus on sustainability and artisanal quality. Since 1978, Bothy Vineyard has produced distinctly English style whites and with the introduction of new grape varieties in 2007, Bothy wines now include a rosé, sparkling and a red.

I discovered Bothy Vineyard a number of years ago now and they have built up a great reputation for their still white wines, including their award winning The Doctor’s Bacchus 2018 and their off dry Renaissance 2018, made from the Ortega grape.

The extreme frost in May means Bothy have sadly lost their 2020 vintage, but the vines are recovering and their 2018 is at peak vintage and well worth a taste. Although unable to bottle their 2019 wines due to the current restrictions, and tours and tastings postponed for the foreseeable future, you can keep up to date with Bothy’s events and progress via their newsletters and Facebook.

6 bottles or more can be delivered for free to Oxford, Abingdon and local areas using their green energy electric car, more information here.

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Poulton Hill Estate Vineyard

Poulton Hill Estate Vineyard has been producing award winning wine since 2010. Their 8,800 vines near Cirencester and Cheltenham produce up to 20,000 bottles a year of English white, rosé and sparkling wines as well as spirits such as Cotswold Brandy and Sloe de Vie.

Having trademarked ‘Bulari’ as a generic term for English Sparkling, their multi-award winning English Sparkling Brut is the epitome of the style. Poulton Hill wines are listed in my excellent local Co-op in Chipping Norton so I’m very familiar with their high-quality wines. Their Waitrose listing with their Bacchus is great news and make sure you visit when you can as Poulton Hill Estate have a great set up. Try the Bulari Sparkling Brut!

Unfortunately, the late frost in May – the latest on record – took 50-60% of the vines which had flowered earlier than usual. This is a huge hit for Poulton Hill Estate, who have begun the slow wait for vines to fully recover, which could potentially be up to 3 years.

Their wines are still available to buy from the Cellar Door (appointment only) and will be stocked in Waitrose from 17th June.

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Three Choirs Vineyard

Three Choirs Vineyard is one of England’s oldest and largest vineyards, with 75 acres of land in Gloucestershire and first planting dating back to 1973. It is also the first English vineyard I visited back in 1995 on a very wet Sunday! They have developed a great visitor experience as well as a range of wines for all occasions. I’m particularly excited by the release of their Pinot Noir 2018, having tasted this wine just after fermentation on my last visit.

Unscathed by the late frost in early May, the vineyards are flowering roughly 3 weeks earlier than normal, just in time to celebrate the addition of two new sparkling wines available to mail order – Blanc de Noirs 2012 and Pinot Noir Rose 2014.

Gift vouchers are available to buy in advance for the reopening of their rooms, brasserie, tours and tastings from July 4th.

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Welcombe Hills Vineyard

Welcombe Hills Vineyard overlooks the historic town of Stratford Upon Avon and has been producing award winning wine since 2001. The 2.5-acre vineyard is currently soaking up the warm weather having avoided the late frost in May, and flowering will be 2-3 weeks ahead of previous years which should lead to a record year for yield and quality.

The team at Welcombe HiIls Vineyard are so enthusiastic and go-ahead that I recommend visiting them when possible. From the start of English Wine Week, Welcombe Hills will be hosting socially distanced tours of their vineyard. We have so many fantastic vineyards relatively close by that many people are still not aware of.

Welcombe Hills Vineyard have just bought back their first English Sparkling Wine ‘Ophelia’ from the fantastic 2018 vintage, and their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc & Bacchus ‘Twelfth Night,’ both of which I highly recommend trying.

Bottles are available to buy online with free delivery for Cotswold Life readers using the code COTSWOLD LIFE.

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Woodchester Valley Vineyard

Woodchester Valley is an award-winning family owned vineyard and winery with a total of 45 acres under vines across three different sites throughout the Stroud valley in the South Cotswolds. This year’s warm Spring brought budburst forward by two weeks, yet with the late frost in May, Woodchester Valley protected growth by lighting thousands of ‘bougies’ - anti-frost candles - throughout the vines. This minimised vine losses to 7% so they are confident of another great harvest to complement their latest limited-edition releases of Atcombe Red 2018 and Atcombe White 2019.

I was brought up in Stroud and have watched with respect and admiration as the Woodchester Valley Vineyard has developed. Make sure you visit as this is a beautiful part of the Cotswolds. I hope a sunny summer in 2020 will mean they can produce some more award-winning Sauvignon Blanc.

Having successfully run a number of virtual tasting sessions throughout lockdown, Woodchester Valley plan to host special events for English Wine Week. With the gradual reopening of tours, tastings and guest houses from July, there will be a great deal to engage with at the vineyard in the coming months.

Wines can now be collected from the re-opened Cellar Door shop, or via free delivery for 6 or more bottles from the online shop.

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As well as the range of events for English Wine Week from local vineyards, wine merchants and retailers including The Stroud Wine Company, Tivoli Wines, Vinotopia, Eynsham Cellars, and Talking Wines will also be engaging with the celebrations and can offer a broad introduction to English Wines. For example, Café de la Post in Chadlington, Oxfordshire is hosting a range of activities such as a Facebook Live tasting event with The Wine Tipster (26th June 6pm) https://www.facebook.com/cafedelapost/, and showcasing English and Welsh producers available to buy in store and online.

Engaging with local suppliers and vineyards reduces the miles bottles travel and supports some great English producers during this time.

Follow The Wine Tipster across social to see how he’ll be celebrating: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn

However you choose to celebrate, have a great English Wine Week!

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