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In the last 10 years hectarage of planted vines in the UK has more than doubled making wine one of the fastest growing agricultural products in the UK. Visit any supermarket and you’ll discover many increasingly impressive bottles from some of the big Estates – Nyetimber, Chapel Down and Camel Valley in Cornwall to name a few.

Interest in English wine has surged along with the rise of craft beers and locally sourced produce. Customers are increasingly interested in tasting wines from lesser-known producers but who are these new winemakers?

Hence my quest – Grape Britain – to visit everyone of the 500+ English and Welsh Vineyards

Somewhere between the M3 and the south coast sits a criss-cross of country lanes, roads so entwined you easily find yourself lost. It is here in the heart of Hampshire you will find Hattingley Valley and it sits perfectly in this idyll. It was quite a sight for a Londoner – the bare branched trees forming tunnels along the roads. It had me wondering if I was on my way to Westeros.

Simon Robinson, a former lawyer, established Hattingley Valley in 2008 with the help of Emma Rice, Founder of Custom Crush, a wine analysis laboratory.  Together they have grown the vineyard into a modern, eco-friendly winery over 60 acres across two sites. Simon and Emma and their teams take pride in the quality their work and the use of the latest technology. They were the UK’s first winery to adopt solar power.

TM Michael Boudot

Ten years on, the winery has attracted a passionate and dynamic group of individuals, excited about the explosion of interest in English wines and about the prospect of working at the forefront of English wine-making.

They are separated into two distinct teams who together look after the vineyard and make the wine. The wine-making team is made up of Emma and Jacob Leadley (top photo) with help from Will Perkins (2nd Photo)

The second part of the team (vineyard team) is headed up by Lauren Merryfield (no photo) (Vineyard Manager), Roman Henrion and Tom Birkett

Everyone I spoke to was passionate about viticulture and enthusiastic to try new techniques – from new ways to provide wind and frost protection, irrigation, nutrient application and canopy management (that’s looking after every part of the vine visible above the ground).

There is a huge commitment to evaluating the Hampshire terrior and planting an experimental range of grape varieties and root stock in search of the best fruit-bearing vines.

Hattingley Valley has the potential to be one of the leading and most respected of English sparkling wines. They have already won many global awards and are a leading player in the English sparkling wine industry

The team now manages 60 acres on two well-situated sites. The vines are nurtured throughout the growing year with an environmentally sensitive approach to enhance ripeness, yield and fruit quality.

Just some of the awards Hattingley Valley has won

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As I write this the “Beast from the East” and a local UK storm “Emma”  is firmly beating down upon us ! – Scotland is in the grip of -15, Most of NE England has fallen to a stand still and most of SW is almost under control of the Army . Almost sounds like this could be a take over from a military dictatorship or an episode from “Game of Thrones”

The polar vortex nicknamed “Beast From The East” has spiraled in from the arctic and is to blame. Winter is coming…..

What caused this and what can we do to solve it !

A polar vortex is a mass of desperately cold air that sits above the Earth’s north and south poles.  Controlled by a large pocket of low pressure it rotates in an anti-clockwise direction at the North Pole and clockwise at the South Pole.  When the vortex is strong it is concentrated over the Arctic or Antarctic area -but when weak it can split into two or more freezing vortices. This is where the problems start as they can move south to Canada, the USA and Europe, increasing the risk of air temperatures decreasing to potentially dangerous levels.Which is what we are witnessing at the moment.

Photo taken this week showing the cold snap over most of Europe

This weeks weather affecting airports

A scene from Chinatown, London
 All this means we are cold , we are grumpy and more importantly we need a winter warmer.
Perfect timing for one of the coldest events in recent years and the US celebrating Nation Mulled wine day on the 3rd March
NATIONAL MULLED WINE DAY USA

National  Mulled Wine Day is observed annually on March 3rd.

Mulled spirits are wine and liquors that have been heated and spiced. Mulled wine is usually made with red wine (usually inexpensive but full of fruit – Cabernet Sauvignon works best)  with various spices, fruits and sometimes slightly sweetened with honey.  Popular blends include cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus, vanilla, anise, cloves, raisins or pears. Despite its high sugar content, mulled wine is not a drink that ages well.

Historically Pubs who make their own usually make a rather thin alternative to mulled wine that was once designed to show off the wealth and generosity in Medevial times. Indeed a cookery book published about 1390 first highlight the potential benefits of a warming drink. With a recipe which included cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom and grains of paradise itwas more overpowering and medicinal than it was enjoyable

what all of these recipes show is that the mulled wine is a basic drink. Not much finesse , not much elegance but a pleasant spiced alcoholic drink merely for warming the soul.Because of its basic Nature it can never command an expensive price and is therefore great in Winter for people to enjoy a drink with friends.

Searcy’s Champagne Bar in St Pancreas currently holds the world record for the highest cost per glass   (Click here for link to find out more ! )

Franz Settner and Son 5 Euro

Outstanding Value !!

Screaming eagle 1992 £500,000

Although a person who mixes spices with this scarce Cabernet is a brave person!!!

The Franz Stettner & Sohn firm is one of the largest distilleries in Bavaria. Everything began with a bottle of lemon liqueur on 12 July 1949. Since then, the firm has passed into the hands of its third generation, with premises of over 40,000 m², its own transport fleet of 23 trucks, a warehouse with a capacity of over three million litres, and six fully automated filling lines. In our selection, you will find the most diverse fruit brandies and liqueurs, distinguished wines, as well as sparkling wines, Champagnes, Federweisser, mulled wines, and fruit and honey wines. Our self-produced, alcohol-free range includes fruit juices, spritzers, refreshment drinks and mixers, energy drinks, iced tea, mineral and table waters, and syrups and of course mulled wine

Franz Settner and sons (click to go to their..

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