Beating the French at their Own Game

Lots of people who come to The George in Rye are always surprised that we have so many English Wines on our list. Any cynicism is usually blown away when we persuade them to try a glass or two! it makes perfect sense, really; we’re slap bang in the middle of English Wine-making country, which is concentrated in the chalky soils along Kent and Sussex.

We’re lucky enough to be collaborating with English Vine Tours this summer, an organisation which offers group and bespoke guided visits and tastings to our best vineyards. Think Sideways but with an Anglo twist! Look out soon for the launch of  private wine tours for Georgers, or shouls that be Georgians….. in the meantime, we interviewed the fittingly named Georgie Furst, the founder of English Vine Tours, about the revolution taking place in our vineyards. What she doesn’t know about English wines isn’t worth asking.

Georgie: the English Wines guru

Georgie: the English Wines guru

Why do you think there’s been a surge of interest in English Wines in the last couple of years?
It’s really been a steady growth over the last 5-7 years really, in which time English Sparkling Wines have won numerous international awards, beating the French at their own game. This in itself has created the impetus for interest, growth and increased production. The weather in the UK has been warming over the last few years which has enabled us to ripen our grapes further which has enabled us to produce better quality wines all round. Additionally there has been a tremendous growth and interest in the production of local foods and wines.

What’s the one English wine would you foist upon the cynic to change their mind and why?
Well that has to be our sparkling wines. The sub-soil structure is similar to Champagne and our sparkling wines are undisputedly amongst the best in the world. Fresh clean fruit, good mousse (fizz), subtle fruit notes on the palate balanced with refreshing acidity and hints of yeast are typical characteristics.

Is there a typical punter who comes on your tours?

We have a varied range of people booking from individuals, corporate groups to couples from London visiting for the weekend. The key common factor is the interest in visiting the vineyards and getting to understand a little bit more about how wine is made, without having to travel abroad.  Another key thing to remember is that the tours are experiences so they make a perfect gift for any friend or loved one.  The vineyards are set in beautiful countryside so simply make a great day out.

What vineyards are leading the way in this renaissance?
In reality all the vineyards are leading the way. They are all promoting themselves slightly differently as well as trying different things either in the vineyard or in the winery itself, thus giving us a diverse range of products.

Carr Taylor, Breaky Bottom, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard, Ridgeview Vineyards all in Sussex, Chapel Down in Kent, Camel Valley in Cornwall, are just a few who are making not only some great wines but also making headway in promoting UK wine as a viable alternative at the dinner table and English vineyards as a tourist destination.

What’s the future of English wine – top trends and tips!
The future of English wine is going from good to great and as such it is one of the few home grown industries that is experiencing growth. As our climate slowly warms, the wines that we produce will get better and better. As such it is key for us to ensure that we do not sell out to foreign investors and lose the uniqueness and individuality of what we do. Top tips would be English Pinot Noir in the next 2-3 years, and Rose wines which are growing in quality as well of course the sparkling wines. Buy some local cheese and savour!

If it wasn’t 10am as we write this, we might just do that.

Look out soon for the launch of our partnership on the main George in Rye website. Till then, happy drinking!

The very beautiful Nutbourne Vineyards

The very beautiful Nutbourne Vineyards

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