Demand for sparkling wine has bubbled up in the past few years, cementing its place as one of the UK’s favourite drinks.
Although prosecco has benefitted the most from this trend, outselling champagne for the first time in 2014, there’s a challenger on the sparkling wine scene that’s being made a lot closer to home.
That new rival is English sparkling wine. In contrast to traditional British wine, made in the UK with imported grapes, the new breed of native wines are fully grown and manufactured in England and Wales. Surprisingly perhaps, England has a similar climate and soil type to that of the Champagne region, meaning it excels at sparkling wines according to Giles Cooper, head of marketing at BI Fine Wine.
Now, one of the sector’s most critically acclaimed producers, Gusbourne, believes the summer’s Brexit vote could spur more people to buy English wines in a move to “drink British”. It is eyeing up expansion into the tourism industry as well.
Nestled in the hilly Kent countryside around a 20 minute drive from Ashford is the headquarters of Gusbourne.
The company’s founder and chairman Andrew Weeber, a former orthopedic consultant, bought the estate in 2004 and began planting vines the same year.
Visitors to the Gusbourne estate might be left disappointed if what they expect is a backdrop of an old, crumbling chateau steeped in centuries of viticultural history. Its main winemaking building and office is effectively a silver, metal barn.