There is absolutely no doubt the best way to learn more about wine is to taste it, and if you can taste it with the people who actually produce it, so much the better.
I can’t think of a more scenic place to taste wine locally than Hambledon Vineyard and they are hosting their first wine festival on Sunday, August 6.
There is no doubt Hambledon is at the forefront of the most exciting period ever for English wine.
English sparkling wine is winning more and more accolades and if you needed proof that this newly-fledged industry is growing at an astounding rate, since 2000 the area under vine has almost triple.
One million vines will be planted this year alone.
So here is a great opportunity to not only taste the full range of wine made at Hambledon but also a whole range of other wines from around the world.
Hambledon is at the forefront of the most exciting period ever for English wine
Several local independent wine merchants, including Fareham Wine Cellar and the General Wine Company, will be opening bottles from the Barossa to Bordeaux, and there will also be a number of artisan food producers offering their local produce to taste and buy.
Perhaps the most exciting opportunity is to take part in a series of masterclasses with some of the industry’s leading lights.
The pinot noir masterclass is led by Katrina Smith, Hambledon’s own wine educator.
It will explore pinot noir’s versatility in various styles of English wine, from unblended still wine to super sparkling wines. It costs £25.
The English sparkling wine masterclass is led by Hambledon Vineyard owner and English wine visionary Ian Kellet.
He will lead tasters through the range of Hambledon and Meon Hill wines, explaining the importance of ageing as well as the unique geology of Hambledon, which sits on the same chalk as found in the Côtes des Blancs in Champagne.
The class is £50 per person and you can win a pair of tickets to this tasting, details below.
Television personality Joe Wadsack will take the Be a Wine Maker masterclass.
It is a unique tasting, revealing the differences between Champagne, cava, prosecco and, of course, English sparkling wine.
There will be an opportunity to disgorge your own bottle of Hambledon rosé and put in your preferred level of dosage as well as adding your own cork, wire, foil and labels and then take the bottle away with you.
The class is £100 per person.
It sounds like a fabulous day out and if wine and food is your thing, it almost sounds like the Glastonbury of wine festivals.
I’ll see you there.
n Hambledon Wine Festival takes place at The Vineyard, Hambledon on Sunday, August 6 from 11am until 4pm.
Tickets are £10 each and include a souvenir glass and two tasting tokens. Tickets to the masterclasses give access to the wine festival. To buy tickets go to hambledonvineyard.co.uk.
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth.
Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.