Home-grown wine industry is now a real success story

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Did you celebrate Christmas with a glass or two of wine? Was it a bottle from abroad, or was it made from grapes grown right here in Hampshire?

There was a time when English wine was regarded as a bit of a joke.

Those who professed to have some knowledge of the subject were quite condescending about what was being produced in this country.

Well all that has changed. Today we are delighted to report that two Hampshire vineyards are playing their part in putting British wine on the global map by winning major international awards.

Hambledon Vineyard saw off competition from 240 other wines from across the globe to be given the Euposia award for Best UK and International Sparkling Wine 2015.

In November, its Classic Cuvée also beat other top Champagnes and English wines to win Noble Rot magazine’s blind tasting of Champagne versus English sparkling wines.

Meanwhile Exton Park, in the Meon Valley, was also celebrating success after its rose sparkling wine won the gold medal and overall trophy for the best wine in the WVA Wine of the Year competition.

This sends out a serious message that our wine industry means business.

Those who once scoffed at our ability to make high quality wine are now being forced to recognise that we can be more than a match for growers and producers around the world.

It’s a real success story, skilfully utilising the mild climate and the chalky South Downs soil to produce wine that people want.

Indeed, it is so popular that producers are struggling to keep up with demand.

As Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery, who visited Hambledon Vineyard to congratulate staff, said: ‘Our part of the world is experiencing a real renaissance in wine-making.’

We’ll drink to that.

And if you haven’t yet bought your bottles for New Year’s Eve, forgot the foreign ones and buy British!