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Bag your Brut from these Essex vineyards

English wine is having a moment – and Essex has some corkers of its own on the grow with a flurry of fizz-friendly vineyards popping up across the county. Here’s where to pick up your fizz for the festive season.

Saffron Grange Vineyard

A family-run vineyard nestled in the south-facing slopes that skirt the historic market town of Saffron Walden, Saffron Grange sits on the same chalk seam that runs all the way to northern France’s renowned wine region. In short, it’s plonked on some seriously top-stock soil and SG’s premium grapes are proof in the dessert-wine pudding. Tours and tastings run from April to October, and are available by pre-appointment only.

Stand-out sip: The new Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé – a luxurious rose-gold brut wine made from 100 per cent pinot noir grapes, with a hint of white pepper spice.

Dedham Vale Vineyard

Set in 40 acres of idyllic vines, woods and rolling green pasture in rural north Essex, this award-winning winery in Dedham Vale is super tour-friendly, hosting guided walks, tastings and a buffet-style lunch before a final stop in the bottle shop. Lasting from 11am-2.30pm, you can book the full experience for £33.99, then stock up on your favourite tipples until next time.

Stand-out sip: I can personally recommend the Dedham Vale Romanus 2016, a medium dry white wine best sipped chilled.

Crouch Ridge Vineyard

Planted on gentle south-facing slopes overlooking Althorne Creek near Burnham-on-Crouch, Crouch Ridge sits on 10 acres of vines, the first 2,700 of which were planted back in 2012. Since then, owners Ross and Samantha Lonergan have planted a further 9,900 Pinot and Chardonnay crops, which now produce top-quality still and sparkling wines. Don’t believe us? Head down there and take a look: Crouch Ridge runs a number of tasting and tour options, including a private Vineyard Buggy Tour & Sparkling Picnic (yes, please!).

Stand-out sip: Clean, elegant with crunchy English apples, lemon and peach flavours, the vineyard’s Blanc de Blancs Brut is an Independent English Wine Awards Bronze-medal winner. Need we say more?

New Hall Vineyards

A family-run English wine producer with more than 100 acres of vines, New Hall is a well-established vineyard in Purleigh, Chelmsford, that’s been running since 1969 – making it one of England’s oldest. Cue a slew of awards and robust tour, tastings, and events programme, which even includes its own wine festival on the first weekend of September each year. Whether you’re just passing and fancy a nose (pun unapologetically intended), or you’re pumped for an info-heavy private tour, New Hall has you covered. 

Stand-out sip: The New Hall Signature 2017 – a dry white wine produced from a blend of early-ripening varieties including Pinot Gris, Ortega and Chardonnay. Acidity is low, complex flavours are high (hello, lychee and yellow apple).

West Street Vineyard

A boutique operation in Colchester, this stylish winery comes complete with a foodie-favourite fine-dining restaurant and a local celeb following to boot (TOWIE’s Pete Wicks is known to frequent). Wine-wise, the selection is small but perfectly formed: think a crisp 2018 white with citrus notes; a dry blush-pink rosé with a trace of strawberries and cream; a sparkling white wine with hints of apple; and light 100 per cent Pinot Noir red that’s ideal served slightly chilled.

Stand-out sip: Our money’s on the fruit-fuelled Sparkling White Wine for a smart hit of bubbles.

Clayhill Vineyard & Cafe

Stretched across a coastal peninsula between the rivers Crouch and Blackwater, this beautiful vineyard in the village of Latchingdon, south of Chelmsford, slopes down to the Crouch Vale and serves up light bites with tastings and tours. Sit outside to drink in the views (and home brews) or head into the modern-style cafe for a slice of something sweet to team with your Essex-corked Chardonnay. 

Stand-out sip: Pinot Noir. Rich, fruity and full of flavour, this is one of the vineyard’s original plantings and it’s still going strong.

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