After lunch at The Duke William and a stop at the garden centre, we headed over to Staple on the drive home to visit Barnsole Vineyard, an absolute gem I stumbled across early last year. They've just launched their first English Sparkling Wine (which I am very, very excited about), so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take you on a tour of the vineyard. Since last spring Sally and Phillip, the husband and wife team who took the vineyard over a few years ago commissioned me as one of the photographers taking photos for their new website and leaflets, so here is a little snapshot of Barnsole over the past year.
I've been driving (or been driven) past Barnsole for years. The vines were planted 23 years ago (in 1993, the year I was born) and to me it was just another part of the roadside landscape. But as I got more into wine on my trip to La Rioja in 2014, I wanted to learn more about the vineyard just up the road. After really enjoying a glass of their Red Reserve at Deeson's one evening, I stopped by as I was driving past on an unexpected free afternoon and met the lovely couple who had taken it over: Sally and Phillip. I was really taken by their slick new branding, delicious and good value hyper local selection of English wines, and their clear love for their craft (which extends to their wish to share it with everyone who stops by.)
They have three core wines; two whites (their Kent Classic which has to be one of my all time favourite wines, a light, fruity wine that is well suited to drinking a glass in the garden on a sunny afternoon with a good book, and a crisp, French style drier wine perfect for pairing with a meal), and a well bodied red I like to serve with a good Bolognese sauce. You can buy them all at the vineyard, and a few selected local merchants and restaurants; they don't want to sell too much wine outside of the vineyard, as they want to encourage people to visit and really connect with the the wine they are buying and how it has been made.
Their English Sparkling is new for this year. Coming in at under £20 a bottle it is a perfect conversation starter aperitif, with a strong profile of elderflower than leaves you with no doubt that it has come from the heart of East Kent. It has its own character which sets it apart from other English sparking wines like Nyetimber, which while I adore it, it has more in common with a French champagne.
Barnsole Vineyard can be found on Flemming Road in Staple near Canterbury (CT3 1LG for your sat navs!), and you can stop in any time (their summer opening times, which run until September are 10:30am to 5:00pm) for a free mini tour and a tasting of their standard wines. Alternatively, you can book a full tour and a tasting of all their wines ahead for £7 per person if you call ahead.