Chapel Down is nestled in the beautiful English countryside of Kent in a charming town called Tenterden about an hour and a half away from London (if travelling by train). The Kent coastline is synonymous with the white cliffs of Dover and its iconic chalk soil (we’ll come back to this), is the very same as that of Champagne – just 90 miles to the south.
As fans of fizz, we decided to make the trip out, explore the countryside and visit England’s leading wine producer. Feeling brave (and factoring in Sunday trains) we decided to head into Ashford International and cycle from there to the vineyard (15 miles). Having done some research we learnt that Ashford to Tenterden is on the famous scenic route 18 and whilst it is long, it’s also a beautiful way to explore nature and to get from A to B, (B in this case being Chapel Down).
The cycle route really is breathtaking and worth doing; we rode past green fields and gold fields. We passed through natures tunnels created by trees, woods and forests all very charming as only the countryside can be and of course very instagrammable.
We arrived an hour and half later, a little exhausted but invigorated and ready to dive straight into the tour and learn about the wine and the process from vineyard to bottle before our tasting.
Here’s a few things we learnt from our tour:
- It’s the chalk soil coupled with the cool climate that enables Chapel Down to produce its truly world-class sparkling wines, as well as aromatic white wines and elegant light red wines.
- The sparkling wines are produced using the intricate Traditional Method where the bubbles are created naturally within the same bottle that you take home, this is the same method used by Champagne.
- Kate Middleton drank the rose at her wedding
- Chapel Down supplies leading British chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and is served in some of the UK’s best restaurants.
- Chapel Down is also an official supplier to 10 Downing Street, is one of the UK government’s Top 50 Food & Drink producers and was recently named one of the London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.
- In the past two years alone they have launched England’s first skin contact white wine, England’s most expensive bottle of sparkling wine and broken a world-record for the largest and fastest crowdfund.
- Chapel Down has 193 acres under vine across Kent, and sources fruit from a further 195 vineyards across the South East of England.
- Chapel Down also produces Curious Drinks, an award-winning range of beers and cider, produced using winemaking expertise. The range includes Curious Brew lager, Curious IPA, Curious Porter and Curious Apple cider.
- Chapel Down recently released a unique English grape brandy in June. The brandy is from the 1991 harvest of the Lamberhurst vineyard and aged in oak barrel for 23 years. Only 2000 bottles have been produced of Lamberhurst Estate Fine & Rare English Grape Brandy.
- Chapel Down also introduced a collection of exceptional Single Vineyard wines from Kit’s Coty in Kent – a range of still and sparkling wines produced from a single vineyard will be released over the next 12 months, starting with Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2013 launched on St George’s Day 2016.
To be honest there’s so much more to learn! We definitely feel another trip coming on plus we can’t get enough of their sparkling wines or their dessert wine (the latter of which is only available on site).
Tyres pumped, brakes checked here we come for round two!!
Chapel Down, Tenterden Vineyard, Small Hythe Rd, Tenterden, TN30 7NG