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The rise of the English Vineyard

A historical practice

England is well known for its wet and cold climate, so it may be surprising to learn that vineyards may have been in England as far back as Roman times. However, any vineyards prior to the 11th Century will likely have fallen into disrepair during The Dark Ages. Once Christianity was re-established, vineyards were planted, and wine was produced. The Domesday Book records of 1085-6 mention 42 vineyards in England, of which 12 were attached to monasteries.

Over the following centuries, the importation of goods increased thanks to improvements in transportation speeds and conditions. So while the English enjoyed drinking wine, most of it was probably imported from France, Bordeaux in particular, and Spain.


There was a small revival of English wine in the 20th Century; however, it wasn’t until the end of the Century that the climate allowed the grapes to thrive.

Today there are more than 400 commercially active vineyards, with the majority in the South East where the climate is warmer. English sparkling wine is probably the most recognised style. Due to the soil type, many southern vineyards are able to produce sparkling wines that rival the champagne houses.

Sources “History of Wine.” Heritage Wines,

Working with Clive Barlow MW

Clive started his career working at the vineyard in Hampshire’s New Forest in the 1980s. He became a Master of Wine in 1999, one of 415 in the world, and now runs a wine and consultancy business in Kent. Clive can provide a range of tastings and activities, including The English Wine Workshop and the Tasting Challenge.

Goodnestone Park can also arrange Wine Dinners which includes a meal in which Clive will pair wines with the several provided courses and also provide commentary on wines during the year.

Vineyards near Goodnestone Park

There are several vineyards near Goodnestone Park. Simpsons Vineyard (Barham) is an award-winning vineyard that offers tours around its winery. The shop at Chartham Vineyard (Chartham) is open on Saturdays and tours can be pre-booked.

If you wish to enjoy a free wine tasting without an appointment, visitors are welcome at the Barnsole Vineyard (Staple).

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