The Big English Wine Adventure

We’ve made some delicious English wine for charity. Now we need you to buy them and help us raise some serious money for a BRILLIANT charity – the Marine Conservation Society – which is restoring our seas and helping fight climate change.

‘Really interesting (and delicious) English wines … Fabulous’ Jancis Robinson MW OBE

We’ve already raised over £20,000 for the Marine Conservation Society to date. Now we need to sell the last bottles to boost that total – to that end we’ve taken a massive 40% off to give you an extra incentive to buy! So The Blend 2017 is now just £20 a bottle and the duo set including the 2016 Blanc de Blancs is now just £50.

These are one-off, small-production wines that we’ve helped make, featuring unique collector’s item labels. The three-pack (now sold out) was via The Wine Society – and you can buy the sparkling wines direct from Hattingley Valley. Don’t miss out – when they’re gone they’re gone, and they also happen to make pretty special presents..! We really appreciate your support.

Right, so, the story. We’re Susie & Peter, married Masters of Wine and broadcasters. We love English wine and so making some delicious bottles as a collaborative and charitable project was our idea of fun. 

A short while ago we released two Hampshire sparkling wines and one red (Essex Pinot Noir). We made a podcast about how it all started and another podcast about how it’s all ending. But, to start at the beginning – initially we teamed up with award-winning Hampshire winery Hattingley Valley to make 1,000 bottles of fine sparkling wine. We started in October 2016 by helping harvest and press the grapes, which you can see in the video above. Susie was focused on quality whereas Peter was all about the quantity. Story of our marriage…

Once the fermentation was over, the next step (in March 2017) was to blend base wines together with award-winning winemaker Emma Rice. This is a big decision – so Peter is largely ignored. As you can see in the video above.

Then it was a waiting game. The wine was put into bottles in June 2017, with yeast and sugar. This second fermentation in bottle not only gives it the fizz but also flavour and richness, as the wine matures over time. This all takes a couple of years...

Waiting for wine is never easy, though. And we had so much fun making the first one that we just couldn’t stop ourselves getting involved the next vintage as well. So in October 2017 we went along to help (hinder?) the pickers once again and then, in February 2018, sat down with Jacob Leadley to craft another delicious fizz (see below).

We wanted to do something different so focused on Pinot Meunier, a grape we feel has the potential to become a real forté for English sparkling wine with its beautifully evocative aromas and rounded yet fresh flavour profile. The final blend was pretty much half-half Meunier and Chardonnay, with a healthy third of that aged in oak. So that made TWO (sparkling) wines on the go.

And then, just as we were hanging up our wine-making spurs, along came 2018. The vintage of a lifetime in the UK. And we thought – we can’t let this opportunity pass. So we went for one last hurrah – the third and final bottle to complete the set…a fine red Pinot Noir from…Essex! Made by the brilliant new producer on the block, Danbury Ridge, which is a rising star on the English wine scene.

Here’s Danbury Ridge winemaker Liam Idzikowski explaining what makes Essex Pinot Noir so special. He describes it (winningly) as, ‘frontier winemaking’ and adds: ‘we’re on the cusp of something.’ Note the irrigation pipes in the background – this is one of the warmest and driest parts of the UK. It can also get, as you will hear, a bit blustery! 

So there you have it. Our full set of brilliant English wines went on sale in late November 2021. The full set of three wines has now sold out but you can still buy the sparkling wines from Hattingley Valley: either as a two-bottle set or single bottles of The Blend. Supplies are limited and when they’re gone, they’re gone!

We’re very proud to be working alongside such a fantastic charity partner on this project. All profits raised from the Big English Wine Adventure will be going to the Marine Conservation Society (registered charity no. 1004005), which works to protect and restore our precious seas, with all their vital ecosystems and invaluable ability to counter the climate crisis.

For more details on the Marine Conservation Society’s work, do check out our podcast Making Wines for Hope & Glory plus here’s a link to the small-print detail.

We’ll update this page regularly so please do check back in. There will also be updates on our social media channels. As for the mailing list, we certainly won’t bombard you with emails – a pet peeve of ours. Here’s a link to our standard T&Cs too. Cheers!

We’re so proud of how the wines have turned out. They’re utterly delicious! But don’t take it from us – wine luminary Jancis Robinson MW OBE has described them as ‘delicious…fabulous’ while The Wine Society’s Director of Wine, Pierre Mansour, deemed them to be, ‘stunning.’

One Instagram user pondered whether the Pinot Noir was, ‘England’s best red?’ while Jonathan Q-E wrote in to say: ‘We drank the sparkling wines (and) they smacked all the champagnes and cavas for six. So rich and exciting and a super treat. The Pinot I drank yesterday just blew me away. I love Pinot Noir but I can’t remember having one more exquisite than this. It’s so generous and beautifully balanced. It’s a proper emotional wine, and a great achievement.’

The project has also been featured in the likes of Decanter and The Drinks Business.

As showcased in Decanter (above), the bottles also look impeccable.

Our amateur snaps don’t do them justice but we’re thrilled with how they turned out. Hendog’s art is sensational, making these bottles true collectors’ items.

Finally, we’d like to sincerely thank the people and companies who have supported this project, Without their collaborative, generous spirit, the Big English Wine Adventure would never have happened. They are: