While nothing ever gets too formal here at Gusbourne, our Estate Tour is certainly the most structured and instructive of the guided visits we offer. Here, Cellar Door Manager Dan Grainger explains what to expect.
We start the day in The Nest at 11am with an introduction to the Gusbourne story – how we came to be in 2004 and how we've developed to produce some of the highest quality sparkling and still wines in England. We're the only three-time winner of the IWSC English Wine Producer of the Year, and we'll certainly mention our commitment to our exacting environmental standards, as a founding member of the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain initiative. A quick check on the weather will determine whether our small group need our well-stocked supply of wellingtons and umbrellas. Luckily we're usually blessed with clear skies here in the Garden of England.
It's all about the wine!
Then it's into the first of the vineyards we'll visit. The Estate Tour is always led either by myself or Assistant Cellar Door Manager Matt Hope, or by one of our senior tour hosts. In other words, full-time Gusbourne staff who can answer any question with deep technical knowledge of every process we employ here – from the difference between sparkling and Burgundian clones and which pruning styles each variety of grape prefers in which vineyard location through to the behind-the-scenes techniques in the winery. We want our guests to not just enjoy tasting our wines but to understand how they're made and what makes them special. Our tour hosts genuinely enjoy making that happen.
The Estate Tour goes further than our other tours.
Not just in terms of more detailed information but also in the distance we travel in the vineyards. Depending on the season and where we are in the annual cycle of work, guests get to stop and talk with people tending the vines or pruning – again hugely knowledgeable professionals who are generous with their time. The Estate Tour will likely take us places the other tours don't reach. And there's history to discover, such as the old well in Commanders and the ancient burial site in Mill Hill. Each vineyard's name has a story behind it
But as I say, this tour is really about the vines and the wines. Many guests are fascinated to learn the effect upon the finished product of the orientation, altitude and slope of the vineyards – how one configuration will affect a Chardonnay grape differently from how it impacts a Pinot Noir. Same goes for soil types, with the contrast between Wealden Clay and Tunbridge Wells sands. Being out in the vineyards with an expert is obviously the best way to learn how these complex details eventually lead to decisions made in the winery.
More time in the vines means more tasting there too.
There's nothing more authentic than tasting wines when you’re in a vineyard surrounded by the sights and smells of the product in its most natural state! We'll sometimes even sample a wine made with grapes hand-picked from the very plot we're standing in in.
Then it's back to The Nest for lunch. The Nest is a beautifully designed space that curates the history of the local area as well as Gusbourne, and guests typically spend some more time here when lunch is over around 3pm. It's always a delicious three-course lunch of locally sourced ingredients. The difference is that here the lunch is chosen to match the wine, not the other way round. Your guide will provide sommelier-style input on a carefully selected group of Gusbourne wines from the cellar, both still and sparkling. Our notable Blanc de Blancs will certainly feature, and often we'll have a vertical tasting of vintages. We've also been known to finish with Gusbourne's version of the rare Ratafia, a fortified digestif. It's a nice surprise.
Book a four-hour guided Estate Tour, including three-course lunch paired with rare and limited-edition wines for £100 per person. All of our tours are also available to book as a gift.
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