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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
English vineyards show off wines
Grapes on vine
Wine producers are drawn to a south-facing aspect and chalk soil
Vineyards in the South East are opening their doors to promote English wine.

English Wine Week, beginning on Saturday, is timed to coincide with the start of the growing season and the beginning of summer tourism.

Eight vineyards in Kent, Sussex and Surrey are running events including walks, tastings and discounts.

There are about 400 vineyards in England. Producers say the industry is showing "significant expansion", particularly in sparkling wines.

Julia Trustram Eve, of English Wine Producers, said: "English wines are more widely available than people might think."

She said wine makers in England were making "crisp dry to medium dry whites, refreshing roses, luscious dessert wines and light fruity reds".

Silver medal

She said many had won awards, placing the country "firmly on the map as a quality wine producer".

This year, Throwley Vineyard near Faversham, Kent, was awarded a silver medal for its Throwley Reserve Brut 2001 in the International Wine Challenge.

Proprietor Duncan Wilson said: "It really demonstrates the quality of our wines when the Throwley Reserve Brut 2001 wins the same medal as Dom Perignon 1998."

He said his award-winning wine was made from equal amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and created using the "Methode Traditionelle" of secondary fermentation in the bottle as practised in Champagne for many centuries.

Vineyard owners across the region say the climate and light chalky soil of the North and South Downs are similar to the wine-growing regions of France.

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