Our introductory guide to English wine
English wine might feel like something of a recent phenomenon, but the first vineyard was actually planted in the UK in the 1950s. Though it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that English Sparkling wine properly landed on tables across the country and started to win awards and popularity. Today, there’s an estimated 500+ commercial vineyards across the UK, with a range of grape varieties. And if you’re wondering which styles of wine are produced in the UK, we've shared a top line guide below.
What are the most planted grape varieties in the UK?
First things first, Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape in the UK. There are a few reasons for this, but one of the key factors at play is the boom of English Sparkling wine, which has largely been made in imitation of Champagne. The three core grapes used for Champagne production are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meuiner. As such, it’s no surprise then that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are commonly seen planted across the UK, with vineyards also releasing still Pinot Noir reds. At Radlow Hundred, we worked with expert growers to pair our soil with the best grapes, and this led us off the beaten path. We now grow Rondo and Solaris varieties at our Herefordshire vineyard, which, for us, has been the perfect step into focussing solely on producing still, small-batch English wine.
Where are most of the English vineyards?
The most popular regions for growing wine are currently Sussex, Kent and Surrey, where there’s an abundance of vineyards now springing up and growing award-winning wines. So much so, that Champagne producers have started to eye up land for their own future production and investment. However, we’re based down in Herefordshire, where a group of vineyards are starting to develop and create a new region of English wine growing. With a rolling landscape, consistent climate and rich soil, we think it’s the perfect place to be planting vines for the future.
Which style of wine can I expect with still English wine?
With warmer summers in the UK, English wine is increasingly made a little drier. With white English wine, you can expect a crisp and fresh palette, with a natural acidity that we find in our Solaris grape. When it comes to Rosé, English wines encompass summer berry notes, and a slight sweetness, which we’ve found typically expressed in our 2022 Vintage. Lastly, and this is where we think it gets really interesting, is the future of English reds. Whilst Pinot Noir has been the go-to grape up until now, we’ve opted for Rondo, which expresses the potential of fruity, rich reds that we think could be the next chapter in English wine.
If you’re keen to find out more about English wine, head to our friends at English Wine Week, and follow our blog for more tips and information throughout the year.