With the same care, commitment and generosity we put into making our vintage sparkling and still wines, the whole team at Gusbourne thrives on sharing our love of vines, wines and our magical surroundings with everyone who visits. Here, cellar door assistant manager Matt Hope, who grew up in the nearby village of Smarden, gives a taste of our Discovery Tour experience.
Our Discovery Tours provide a deep experience of what makes Gusbourne special. Compared to our Vineyard Tours, which are a more condensed introduction to Gusbourne, we venture a little further afield out into the estate on a Discovery Tour. We visit specific blocks where some of our single-vineyard wines start their lives. And if the weather’s nice we can stay out there and try some of those wines right next the vines that produced them.
Every tour starts with a glass of sparkling wine. Our Brut Reserve is a fantastic introduction to Gusbourne. We normally start our Discovery Tour around 11 o’clock and take a glass with us as we do a gentle walk up to the top of our Boot Hill vineyard, where you can take in the stunning views across Romney Marsh. We’ll also stop in at Commanders or Cherry Garden and Butness, which are some of the earliest vineyards planted here on the estate in Kent.
Wine lovers will enjoy the level of detail. We cater all our tours to what visitors want to get out the experience, and in the vineyard that can cover everything from vineyard practices throughout the seasons to explaining about flowering, fruit sets and the ripening and harvesting of the fruit. Then there’s pruning – a whole other level of expertise!
There’s plenty of wine to try! Again, when the weather’s good there’s nothing better than stopping and tasting wines in the vineyards that produced them. That could be one of our sparkling wines or a single-varietal wine, like our still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Guinevere.
Back in the winery there’s even more detail. For anyone interested in the methods of wine production, observing the team at the winery is like a masterclass. We go into how we produce our sparkling wine in the traditional method and, depending on the time of year, it’s possible to taste the base wines fresh out of the tank. It’s fascinating to taste a wine in its infancy.
You’ll discover some very special wines in our collection. We always do a tutored tasting of some of our current vintages as well as our library vintages – ones that have been ageing in our cellar and aren’t available for general sale except to Gusbourne Reserved members. We normally do the tasting at The Nest, our cellar door and tasting room, which looks out over the vineyards. Or if it’s a lovely sunny day we might set up a table and do the tasting outside in our wine garden.
Come hungry – we put on a great spread. All that fresh air and walking through the vineyards stimulates the appetite, and we love the social aspect of tasting our wines alongside food and ingredients from our incredible local larder. You will sample the best locally sourced artisanal products and foraged foods – some from right here on the estate. It’s all seasonal, so the menu changes throughout the year, but expect a feast!
You don’t have to be a wine expert. We get people with all levels of knowledge and experience on our tours, and that’s what makes it interesting and different every time. We tailor the experience so that everyone gets something that fits – and hopefully exceeds – their expectations.
It can feel very ‘far away’ here. But we’re so close to London – it’s only 38 minutes on the high-speed train from St Pancras to Ashford International. Then a short 15-minute taxi journey before you’re in the middle of the Kent countryside drinking English Sparkling Wine. And there are so many incredible places to stay and things to see and do around here – it’s such a good staycation destination.
When you engage and talk with lovers of wine, you learn a lot. I got into the wine industry almost by accident – I was originally drawn to graphic design, but I wanted to live and work in this beautiful part of the country, where I grew up. Doing tours is such a great opportunity to talk about people’s individual experiences and to learn about the world of wine through each other.
Book a four-hour Discovery Tour experience, including a vineyard tour and tutored tasting, some special wines and a lunch of seasonal sharing platters.
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