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English 'champagne'


Breaky Bottom vineyard, outside Lewes.

The Telegraph introduces the story.

From Peter Hall's Breaky Bottom website -

Roman - English Wine History

The Romans planted vines in Britain and since then vineyards have been an integral part of rural England. But for all sorts of reasons they slowly declined until by the 19th century only one or two remained. The annexation of the Bordeaux vineyards during the reign of Henry II provided wine aplenty and hundreds of little ships with their quota of casks in the hold plied their way up-Channel and beyond. Later the monastic vineyards suffered under Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and were abandoned. As time went by transportation of goods to and from Europe became easier and viticulture declined even further. The need for a home-based wine industry had disappeared.

20th century renaissance

Around the middle of the 20th century Edward Hymes and Ray Barrington-Brock began experimenting with grapevine trials and started the re-birth of viticulture in England. Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones planted the first commercial vineyard in 1951 in Hambledon, Hampshire. There are now about 400 vineyards across the south of England and into Wales.

After years of hard work, excitement is bubbling.

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