Hampshire is home to some fantastic vineyards and brewers passionate about crafting excellent English wines as and innovative and classic beers. If you fancy sampling traditional ales or some fantastic British wines or want to stock up in time for Christmas enjoy the list we have compiled below.
During the summer of 1951 Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones was looking out of the dining room window of Mill Down House with his stepson John thinking about what to do with the field directly below them. As Sir Guy was a keen wine lover and Francophile, having spent time as a diplomat in Paris, John suggested he might consider planting a vineyard?
The seed had been sown and Sir Guy began researching the feasibility of planting vines on the south-facing chalky slopes surrounding the house in Hambledon on the South Downs. After careful deliberation, and with the help and advice from friends at the renowned Champagne House Pol Roger, he planted a number of different grape varieties in 1952 and went on to release the first commercial range of English wines. Sadly, following a change of ownership, wine making activities were curtailed at Hambledon in the mid 1990’s and the vineyard was shrunk to just 4 acres, producing grapes for sale to other wineries.
Ian Kellett bought Hambledon Vineyard in 1999.
As a passionate wine lover, Ian was intrigued by the winemaking heritage of the property. After analysing the commercial potential for English wine, he began studying oenology at Plumpton College in Sussex with a view to restoring Hambledon to its former glory. The Hambledon estate comprises of over 50 acres of vineyards and a gravity-fed, state-of-the-art winery – the only one of its kind in the UK. In 2011 the final piece of the jigsaw slotted into place with the appointment of one of Champagne’s leading chef de caves. A renowned expert in minimal-intervention winemaking, Hervé Jestin now directs all winemaking at the Estate.
At Cottonworth they use the traditional method and are focused on producing high quality English sparkling wine from the three classic varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Located in the heart of the Test Valley in Hampshire, Cottonworth is home to the Liddell family who have been farming there for four generations.
Over the last 10 years they have carefully selected 30 acres of prime vineyard sites for the production of Sparkling wine using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
The south facing slopes, chalk soil and temperate microclimate ensure the best conditions for growing grapes of exceptional quality.
The chalky soil is a wonderful medium in which to plant vines for sparkling wine production, as it will drain very easily but keep just enough water for the vines to function at their best. Chalky soil is also poor in nutrients, which stresses the vines – helping to produce superior fruit. Gently stressing the vines is one of the key elements for producing great wine. If the vines are a little stressed, like a great artist or poet, they seem to react by producing a more interesting and complex result. Thus, along with the challenging climate, England is fast becoming an ideal place to grow great sparkling wines!
Simon Robinson established Hattingley Valley in 2008. Following in depth feasibility studies, the first 28 acre south facing site was planted in May of that year. While researching how best to set up a winery, Simon met Emma Rice who had recently founded Custom Crush, a wine analysis laboratory and wine making consultancy for the burgeoning domestic wine industry. Together Simon and Emma planned the modern, eco-friendly winery in Wield that was completed in 2010. It uses the latest technology and equipment from continental Europe, has sophisticated waste disposal facilities and was the first UK winery to adopt solar power.
Two years after the facility’s completion, Custom Crush moved to the winery site to facilitate growth in both businesses. Today the wine making team is made up of Emma and Jacob Leadley, both of whom trained at Plumpton, and Will Perkins who is currently studying there. This dynamic team is excited about the English wine industry explosion and believes that one of the best things about the UK sector is that it allows them to be innovative in making wines.
The vineyard team is headed up by Jim Bowerman and Romain Henrion who are assisted by James Matyear. These dedicated viticulturalists willingly pioneer techniques in wind and frost protection, irrigation, nutrient application and canopy management. They continually evaluate the Hampshire terroir and experiment by planting a range of grape varieties and root stock in order to achieve the very best fruit-bearing vines. The team manages 60 acres on two well-situated sites. The vines are nurtured throughout the growing year with an environmentally sensitive approach to viticulture that ensures optimum ripeness, yield and fruit quality.
Since launching its first release in August 2013, Hattingley Valley has developed into one of the most respected producers and leading contract manufacturers of English sparkling wines in the country. Hattingley Valley’s wines have been recognised in competitions across the globe and we are excited about being part of the industry’s future.
Ringwood Brewery was founded by Peter Austin in 1978, a man who is revered as “the father of British Micro-brewing”. Ringwood Brewery’s first brewhouse was in a former bakery in the old station yard brewing Best Bitter and Fortyniner for a handful of local customers. 1979 saw the production of Old Thumper, which has since become the flagship brew.
In 1986, having outgrown the Minty’s yard premises, the brewery moved to its present site, ironically the location of the old Tunks’ Brewery which ceased trading in 1821. Today the brewery is able to produce circa 40,000 barrels of its renowned and distinctive beers. In addition to Razorback, Fortyniner, and Old Thumper, we now brew the blonde Boondoggle and the deliciously warming XXXX Porter. Ringwood Brewery also boasts its own Brewery Store on site selling a full range of its beers as well as a wines, cider and souvenir merchandise. These goods including bottled beers are available from the online shop. The Store welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
The company’s commitment to continuous improvement by investing in plant and equipment and training and development of staff has been recognised by a number of local and national business awards.
In July 2007, David Welsh decided to retire after nearly 30 years at the brewery and handed the baton over to Marston’s Brewery. Marston’s are determined to continue the Ringwood success story in the premium cask ale market and share the same passion as Ringwood do for real ale. Although Ringwood is a relatively small brewery it has built an enviable reputation for the quality of beer and service and is now the leading Free Trade ale brewer in the Solent area.