Seven Kentish vineyards launch new English wine trail

Seven wine producers from Kent have joined forces with tourism body Visit Kent to launch the Wine Garden of England, a new wine trail for those wanting to explore and sample the county’s produce.

Founding members, from l-r: Julian, Sally, Will and Tom Barnes (Biddenden Vineyards), Henry Ward (Squerryes), Charles and Ruth Simpson (Simpsons Wine Estate), Richard and Leslie Balfour-Lynn (Hush Heath Estate), Charlie Holland (Gusbourne), Patrick McGrath MW (Domaine Evremond), Mark Harvey (Chapel Down). Photo credit: Thomas Alexander

The founding winery members include Biddenden Vineyards, Chapel Down (Tenterden), Champagne Taittinger’s Domain Evremond (Chilham), Gusbourne (Appledore), Hush Heath (Staplehurst), Simpsons Wine Estate (Barham) and Squerryes (Westerham).

Between them, the seven wineries already welcome around 120,000 visitors each year, and it is hoped that by working together with the help of Visit Kent, they can increase oenotourism in the area.

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, president of Champagne Taittinger, the owner of Domaine Evremond, said: “Kent is one of the warmest and driest counties of England, and we were delighted to find some beautiful land, on chalk, near Chilham.

“We were welcomed with open arms by the other producers in the region and I am delighted that we are joining forces with six of the top Kentish wineries in the spirit of friendship, to form the Wine Garden of England and work together proactively to promote the wonderful wines of the region.”

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive of Visit Kent, added: “We are thrilled to be working with this pioneering group of wineries to develop Kent’s wine tourism offer.

“Together we will further establish the county as a stunning rural escape and England’s own Napa Valley, where visitors are invited to relax and explore, tasting a huge range of stunning English wines whilst learning the fascinating stories of these beautifully picturesque vineyards.”

As part of the project, a new website will provide visitor itineraries for both day and weekend trips to Kent, including winery tours.

The site will later be developed to allow visitors to buy wines from each of the partner wineries as well as design and book bespoke excursions, creating a personalised wine tour of Kent.

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