The county’s tourism body, Visit Essex, is launching a campaign to firmly place Essex on the gastro map. Highlighting the county’s boom in Essex wine and vineyards, ahead of English Wine Week (18-25 June), movers and shakers in the industry met at Great Bardfield Vineyard, near Braintree, on 16 June to mark the industry’s recent successes.
Vineyards in Essex have expanded at phenomenal rates in recent years, and the East Anglia region now provides at least 10% of English wine in Great Britain. However, the majority of wines are grown in Essex (at least 50 vineyards), an area famed for its dry sunny climes and a shared geology with the champagne region of Northern France, which is helping Essex vineyards produce award-winning wines. Areas such as the Crouch Valley and places west of Colchester to Saffron Walden haven proven excellent locations for quality vines. Latest figures2 reveal that Essex is the second-largest producer of the Bacchus grape (45 hectares), fourth-largest producer of Pinot Noir (104 hectares) and fifth for Chardonnay (68 hectares).
Over the past few years, Essex wines have established themselves on a global stage with prestigious awards, from New Hall Vineyard picking up a Gold Medal at the Independent English Wine Awards for their 50th Anniversary 2018 Chardonnay, to Tuffon Hall receiving a Gold Medal at the same awards for the last two years in a row! Whereas Saffron Grange has just picked up three international gongs for their latest vintages ³.
In fact, Essex wines have become so renowned, that Wine GB, the national association for the English and Welsh wine industry, aims to put the Bacchus grape forward for its own special wine appellation. The appellation would see the Eastern region become a legally determined and protected wine region, known for its high-quality vintages.
Councillor Mark Durham, Chairman of Visit Essex, is championing the campaign to place Essex on the gastro map. He said: “Essex is predominantly a rural county, home to the finest food and farm shops, top eateries, such as the Michelin-starred Galvin Brothers’ Galvin Green Man, and of course we’re home to TipTree Jam and their acres of strawberry farms, as well as our world-renowned oysters. We’re now also home to over 50 vineyards, which are providing some of the finest English wines, fast becoming the ‘still wine capital’ of the UK.”
He added: “Our vineyards are also opening their doors and becoming big business within the tourism market too. From wine tastings to events in the vines, as well as glamping retreats and luxury accommodation, they’re a wonderful asset and major attraction for people to visit Essex.”