Looking for the hottest drink of the summer? The answer is right on your doorstep: English wine. Get to grips with this booming home-grown industry with some fast wine facts and an introduction to some of the vineyards we work with, just in time for English Wine Week, from 26 May to 3 June
We make more of it than you think
There are around 500 English vineyards producing upwards of six million bottles of wine a year. In the last 10 years hectarage of planted vines has more than doubled and is set to grow by a further 50 per cent by 2020.
We’ve been making it since 1066
French monks are attributed with sowing the seeds for English wine cultivation when they crossed the channel during the Norman Invasion in 1066, but it was the Romans who really laid down the roots, even going so far as to try to grown grapes as far north as Lincolnshire.
We don't just make sparkling wine
The two most popular grapes grown in England are the champagne varieties chardonnay and pinot noir and 66 per cent of the wine made is sparkling, but England also produces still white (24 per cent) and red and rosé varieties (10 per cent)
It can give champagne a run for its money
Millions of years ago, before the land shifted and split to form Europe, huge chunks of south-east England were connected to what is now France’s Champagne region; and we’ve still got similar chalky soil today, which makes it ideal for growing grapes for sparkling wine. What’s more, French winery owners have started to buy up English land as they’re worried the changing climate is making it too hot to grow grapes in Champagne.
It has some famous fans
Apparently, the Queen is a fan of English wine and chooses to serve it to visiting guests.
A family-run vineyard that’s dedicated to crafting world-class sparkling wines in the rolling hills of the English South Downs, Ridgeview produces award-winning fizz like their Marksman – a crisp 100% chardonnay that’s named after a plane M&S sponsored during World War II.
Set in the verdant green Surrey Hills in Dorking, Denbies is one of the biggest vineyards in England. Try our English Lily, a refreshingly dry white, scented with May blossom and grapefruit developed by M&S winemaker Sue Daniels and renowned winemaker John Worontschak at Denbies.
Cornwall’s largest vineyard was originally a sheep farm before Bob Lindo, an ex-RAF pilot, set up his winery there in 1989. Today, the award-winning vineyard is run by Bob’s son, Sam, a three-time UK winemaker of the year champion. Try their classic cuvée – an M&S exclusive.
Nestled in the heart of the Kent countryside, Chapel Down produces wine using fruit sourced from vineyards across the south-east of England under the expert eye of winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire. Watch out for award-winners like their English sparkling brut.
Watch our in-house winemaker Sue Daniels at work with Denby creating a unique blend of English wine exclusively for Marks & Spencer
Try Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc – great with fish and cheese
Try Langham Estate Classic Cuvee Brut, with its notes of buttered toast
We work with small-batch British brewers to produce an array of beers, ales and ciders, whatever your taste
Make the most of our exceptional English wines by sipping them from our top-quality glassware