Wine tours in England? Yes, they do exist. On a beautifully sunny September’s day, it’s hard to believe that New Lodge Vineyard is in England rather than Italy. Set on a gentle slope overlooking the Nene Valley, this boutique vineyard is in Northamptonshire, just outside the village of Earls Barton. It’s one of the county’s best kept secrets. Just a ninety minute drive from London it’s definitely more affordable than Italy, that’s for sure.
Wine Tours for Visitors
Throughout the year New Lodge Vineyard hosts ‘open weekends’. They’re a chance to see the site in action, but more importantly to taste the award winning wines. Entrance is usually free, with the opportunity to sample three of the wines for just £5. You can also try the ‘Nene Valley Nectar’, a delicious sparkling wine, as well as the fresh cider. Last weekend I tasted the lot, you know, for the purpose of research (or something like that).
Adorned in bunting and green foliage, this boutique is a family affair. All 1,800 vines are lovingly hand-reared. They’re tended to by hand, all year round by mother and daughter duo, Joyce and Gabby. The grapes are harvested in October and put into the careful hands of a nearby vineyard in Leicestershire. Here they are transformed into award winning wines and then sold.
The local wines have been praised by experts, with many of them winning silver and bronze awards. However, you don’t need to be a knowledgeable wine lover to enjoy a visit at New Lodge Vineyard. The family are very welcoming. On the open days you’ll be in the company of young families, groups of friends, couples, singletons – the vineyard draws in curious visitors from all over.
Go for the three wine tray taster, so that you can find your favourites. Take a few water-biscuits to cleanse your palate inbetween the tastings. You won’t really find people here doing the sniff, swill and spit routine with the wine. You won’t find wine connoisseurs debating the merits of the notes of each wine either. That’s not to say that they don’t know their stuff though. It’s more a relaxing experience, where you can just sit back, soak up the happy atmosphere and try lots of different wines without spending a fortune.
The red, white and rosé weren’t to my exact taste. I much preferred the sparkling wine, but that’s probably because I always favour the bubbles. A bottle of the Nene Valley Nectar costs £22 a bottle, which is really good value. You can buy all of the wines at New Lodge Vineyard too. They cost around £10 a bottle and many of the other visitors went away with a little collection.
I can’t wait to visit New Lodge Vineyard again and judging by the guest book, it’s not just me. If you can’t afford a trip to the lush Italian vineyards this is a great interim fix. Have a few wines and you’ll soon forget that you’re in Northamptonshire. You can find out more here.
Have you been wine tasting before? Where’s your favourite spot? I’d love to hear from you. X
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