An Introduction to English Wine

June 18, 2021

Back in 2018, Josh made a podcast on English wine. He travelled the country speaking to winemakers far and wide, during what would turn out to be the hottest summer on record (and a great year for wine). The podcast features seventeen interviews with winemakers and grape growers from around England. Each episode focuses on a geographic region or county.

Speaking at the time of the podcast's release, Josh said:

"We are at the beginning of a golden age for English wine. Over the last few years, we've seen craft beer and craft gin skyrocket in sales as a deeper care for where our drinks come from has emerged. That newfound love for provenance will drive growth for English wine, which is inherently producer-led. This podcast is the journey amongst some of the most established as well as some of the newest in that space."

In the year's since podcast's release, much has happened in the English wine

To celebrate English Wine Week, we're revisiting the podcast in its entirety - featuring snippets on our Instagram page over the course of the week. Below is a guide to each episode, and a link to listen all six episodes in full.

Episode Guide

East Sussex

In this episode, Will Davenport of Davenport Vineyards discusses his pinot noir, low intervention winemaking and the importance of being organic. For Kristin Syltevik of Oxney Organic Estate, organic winemaking is also important - and as a newcomer to the industry, Kristin discusses the friendly reception she received. Back when Josh recorded this podcast, Tillingham Wines was relatively new on the English wine scene; here, Ben Walgate explains why he uses qvevri, a millennia-old winemaking technique from Georgia. And finally, David Carr, of Carr Taylor Wines, one of England's oldest commercial growers, discusses how he accidentally fell into making Champagne-method sparkling wine in the 1980s.

Listen to Episode One here

Kent

Josh visits the Garden of England, meeting Charlie Holland, head winemaker at Gusbourne, who explains how he got into the wine industry and specifically English winemaking. Meanwhile, Josh Donaghy-Spire, the head winemaker at Chapel Down, discusses how the industry is rapidly expanding and what this means for the the future of English wine. Adrian Pike from Westwell Wines left a career in the music industry to become a winemaker after trying one of Will Davenport's wines, and discusses his love for skin contact wines.

Listen to Episode Two here

Surrey Hills

Away from the coast, Josh visits the hills of Surrey to speak to Nick Wenman of Albury Organic Vineyard. Nick discusses his passion for making wine using biodynamic practices, even despite some of controversy that surrounds it. He also meets John Worontshak, winemaker for Denbies and Litmus Wines. John reflects on coming to England from Australia in the 1980s, and how the English wine industry has changed since then.

Listen to Episode Three here

Hampshire

Josh continues his quest to visit the winemaking regions of England and visits Hampshire, where he speaks to Corinne Seely - winemaker at Exton Park Vineyards. As a French female winemaker in England, Corinne discusses her optimism for the industry's future, the joys of making wine in England and her ambitions for Exton Park's sparkling wine. Josh also catches up with Jacob Leadley who, at the time of the podcast, was winemaker at Hattingley as well as Black Chalk Wines. Since then, Jacob has left Hattingley to focus on Black Chalk - and in this episode, he discusses his passion for launching his own wines.

Listen to Episode Four here

The South West of England

For the penultimate episode of the podcast, Josh visits the South West of England, which as he admits is arguably cheating. This is an especially large region, stretching across Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Dorset and Devon. Josh meets Sam Lindo of Camel Valley - the first vineyard in England to receive a Protected Designation Origin from the European Union. Josh also catches up with Nat McConnell of Bluestone Vineyards who, back in 2018, was preparing to release his first wine. Josh also caught up with Steven Spurrier - the late, great legend of the wine industry, who discussed his venture into winemaking at Bride Valley.

Listen to Episode Five here

The East of England(ish)

An Introduction to English Wine concludes with interviews with Sir Kenneth Carlisle of Wyken Vineyards who has been growing grapes in Suffolk since the 1980s. Kenneth discusses his 30 years of winemaker experience. Meanwhile, Josh speaks to Sergio Verillo of Blackbook Winery - who makes wine under a railway arch in Battersea with his wife, Lynsey. As an American sommelier and winemaker in England, Sergio discusses running an urban winery in London, and the wine scene here in England.

Listen to Episode Six here

There's so much wine to be discovered here in England, and such variety to be found. 2018 really did end up being a great vintage for English wine, but the future continues to look bright. Since recording the podcast, many of the winemakers featured have continued to experiment with winemaking practices and create some of our favourite wines in England.

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