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Published on June 15, 2022

Why should we drink English wine? 

Just over a hundred miles from the Champagne region in France lies Tenterden in the North Downs of Kent, home to Chapel Down vineyards and winery. With chalky soils and a mild-cool climate, Kent is famous for fruit bearing and is the perfect location and terroir, which is similar to the Champagne region, to make award-winning wines. 

Chapel Down was established in 1992 with the aim was to utilise the grapes from vineyards across the UK. In 1995, the company moved to Tenterden to take over the Rock Lodge vineyard and winery, originally established in 1977 by Master of Wine and author, Stephen Skelton. With their hub in the heart of the Garden of England, Chapel Down has become the largest wine producer in the UK, continuing to be at the forefront of the growth of English wine.  

As England’s leading wine producer, our mission is to change the way the world thinks about English
wine. Our talented winemaking team produce award-winning premium sparkling and still
wines, grown in the chalky terroir of the North Downs of Kent.

Chapel Down uses the same method as Champagne makers use: the Traditional method. Grapes are picked earlier for this method when the sugar levels are lower and there is a higher level of acidity. For white wines, the juice is pressed quickly to keep it white in colour. The first step of fermentation begins the same as any other, by converting the natural sugar in the grapes into alcohol while carbon dioxide is allowed to escape. 


They use this base wine or cuvée, which is highly acidic and not very pleasant, to blend and bottle. A little yeast and sugar for the second alcoholic fermentation and is stored in a wine cellar horizontally to ferment. During this second process, carbon dioxide is trapped in the wine forming the bubbles, with the sugar added determining the pressure in the bottle. 


The bottles are then left to age and are riddled (stored at a 35 degree angle on special racks with the crown cap pointed downwards). Once a day, the wine is given a slight shake and turn. After the correct amount of time (dependent on the wine), the neck is frozen to form an ice plug, encasing the yeast. When the cap is removed, the pressure of the CO2 expels the plug from the bottle, leaving the wine clear and bright.


Though most sparkling wines taste dry, some have a touch of sweetness. The gap left in the bottle will be topped up with a little wine which may also contain some sugar. The more sugar added at this point, the sweeter the wine will be. Finally, the bottle is re-sealed with a thick cork and a wire cage for extra security. 

Visit Chapel Down for yourself with a number of experiences available throughout the year including Alfresco Sparkling & Cream Tea and Daily Guided Tours & Tastings as well as different events for occasions and holidays.  The tours consist of a walk on a guided tour of the vineyards and winery where you can learn abut the English grape harvest and the intricate Traditional method of English Sparkling Wine, concluded with a tutored wine tasting of our award-winning range of sparkling and still wines. 

You can also head over to The Swan Wine Kitchen which is a family-friendly restaurant with an esteemed 2AA Rosette award. Each dish is made from local ingredients and paired with a recommended wine from the Chapel Down range. 

Elegant aromas of red apple, lemongrass and freshly baked bread together with hints of strawberry, citrus and quince on the palate. Crisp and fresh with lively acidity and fine persistent bubbles.

A delicate pale peach colour. Aromas of fresh strawberries and raspberries with background notes of toasty shortbread. It has a fine creamy mousse and a rich dry finish.

Aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and elderflower. The palate is tropical and floral with a crisp texture and a refreshing finish.

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About the author

Chloe Lewis

Chloe looks after all copywriting and proof-reading for Drink Warehouse UK, working with the Marketing team to deliver educational content to all our customers. She has spent many years in the hospitality sector, moving from behind the bar to now helping venues to stock their own. You can find more from Chloe about beer, cider, spirits, wine, non-alcoholic, soft drinks and RTDs all over our blogs, website, social media and Set The Bar magazine. 

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