It’s been a year since I moved out of London and into Essex yet I’ve never really taken the time to explore what Essex has to offer. I guess since I’d lived in London for many years it was just natural for me to want to spend all my free time in London. Well thanks to a press trip organised by Visit Essex I was finally going to explore some of what Essex has to offer.
Essex has Vineyards?
I must admit, before I was invited on this press trip I had no idea England had vineyards! Who knew English wine was even a thing? Certainly not me! Ok, so I’m more of a beer girl so maybe I don’t know much about wine but whenever I go to the supermarket I have an overwhelming selection of wines from South Africa, New Zealand, France, Italy but I’ve never seen an English wine on offer. Could the English even produce a decent wine? I was about to find out!
West Street Vineyard
The first stop was to West Street Vineyard where I was to have my first wine tasting. I’ll admit the only thing I know about wine tasting is that you’re supposed to spit it out after you’ve finished tasting it so I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about this experience. Maybe i’m weird but when I drink wine I like I tend to want to you know, actually drink it!
Any mixed feelings I was having about the wine tasting soon disappeared when we pulled up at West Street Vineyard. We were suddenly in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature. We had visited in the winter months so there were bare rows where the grapes should be. I can only imagine it’s a spectacular sight when the grapes are there.
We were taken upstairs to a private room for our wine tasting. In front of us tables had been set up for the wine tasting. Each place setting had 6 wine glasses with delicious wine ready to be tasted and not a spit bucket in sight. I guess since they are catering for an English audience they know the spit buckets aren’t necessary! If you did want one though they are available on request.
We quickly settled into our chairs ready for our tasting. One by one we tried each of the wines in front of us while Jane, the owner, explained what made each of these wines special. You could clearly see she was passionate about what she does and I loved that. She really made the experience come alive. It was the perfect first wine tasting experience!
During the wine tasting I was wondering why no-one else was finishing their glasses. Call me an alcoholic if you must but if someone pours me a glass of nice wine it would be rude to not finish it. Besides, they were only samples! However, after the sixth glass I could see why everyone was only taken a couple of sips. Suddenly I realised I had become a little tipsy. At least we were having lunch in the restaurant before leaving!
After the tasting was over we were brought downstairs for lunch. We had a three course meal presented to us that was pure perfection. I love it when I receive a plate of pretty food, especially when it’s a plate of delicious food. What I love about West Street is that they focus on using fresh, local ingredients in their cooking.
Dedham Vale Vineyard
Once we were done with lunch it was time to jump back on our bus to head to the next vineyard. Since our next stop was a bit of a journey away it was also the perfect chance for a sneaky post lunch snooze. It was just what I needed to feel refreshed for our next stop; Dedham Vale Vineyard.
Sadly we had fallen behind schedule so there wasn’t time to take a look around the vineyard. From what we did see though, Dedham Vale Vineyard is very beautiful and the perfect setting for a wine tasting. I can just picture myself sat outside on a warm day with a glass of one of their excellent wines just admiring the stunning scenery.
Once we had finished admiring the beautiful scenery we took our seats ready for our next wine tasting. As we had arrived late we only had time to taste three of their wines. After the morning’s tasting that might have been a good thing! The wine we did get to try was simply amazing. While we were tasting the wine we even got taught a bit about the filtering process. It was really interesting to learn about.
New Hall Vineyard
Our final stop of the day was to New Hall Vineyard. Here we got to unwind from a busy day with the lovely ladies from New Hall Vineyard. It was the perfect ending to a lovely day out. As a special treat we had been allowed to sample a wine they were experimenting with that had elderflower in it. I think all of us found this wine delicious so I hope they will be making enough to sell next year!
What I loved about the girls that were working here is that you could see the enthusiasm they had for wine making. That’s why they were experimenting with flavours. They want to continue to improve their wine and you can see this when you taste it. I fell in love with their wine and couldn’t resist buying a few bottles to take home.
As I mentioned before, I was skeptical about my day of visiting vineyards in Essex. I never knew English wine was even a thing and I wasn’t sure if decent grapes could be grown in England. Boy was I wrong! These were some of the tastiest wines I’ve ever had and they were grown right on my doorstep! I can’t believe I have lived in Essex for over a year before discovering these amazing vineyards. I will definitely be returning to all three and this trip has inspired me to go out and explore more of beautiful Essex.
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Please note that while I was working with Visit Essex, the reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. We value our readers too much to lie to you. Our blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!