A small coach-load of World Traders left Waterloo on September 27th for yet another adventure to look at some of the world-class things Britain does. This time it was wine-making, for which we have long had the geology and the soil, and increasingly once again have the climate (check The South East Wine Route Map of Kent, Surrey and Sussex produced by the South East Vineyards Association). A Friday rush-hour venture out of London meant we had plenty of time on the journey to try out the whites, reds and bubbly thoughtfully provided by the organisers, Liverymen Chris and Corinna Edge. A warm welcome at our hotel, the Bay Tree in Broadstairs, run by Alistair Dixon (Citizen and Management Consultant) was followed by a tasting of organic French whites and sparkling from Bordeaux (we are, after all, World Traders) produced by British wine-maker Dawn Jones-Cooper, whose award-winning “Nobody’s Perfect” whites are gaining attention both in the UK and in France.
Saturday took us to Barnsole vineyard (our smallest vineyard to visit, who interrupted their picking to let us taste their varieties of Bacchus, their Classic Sparkling and their Red Reserve, a blend of Rondo and Regent) and Chartham (a vineyard with a view, juggling the picking of their fours grape varieties—Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir—to match the gaps in the downpours). A detour to Romney meant we were able to visit the Romney Tweed (“A Tweed with a Story”) weaving school set up by our own Pat Alston to bring wool-spinning and weaving skills back to the Romney Marsh, an area of quite high deprivation. We celebrated her success with Gusbourne sparkling. Once back at the Baytree, Alistair and his team produced an excellent tasting dinner, each course accompanied by yet another local wine. Sunday’s Chapel Down was a winery on a different scale. Having tasted its Bacchuses, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier sparklings, we dodged the downpours to see the grape presses and new storage facilities. The favourite varieties accompanied lunch in their Michelin-recognised restaurant. Altogether some 30 different wines tasted over three days—and a lot of fun along the way.