Anyone who visits Kent quickly understands why it’s been known as the Garden of England for over four centuries. The county’s rolling fertile hills and open landscapes are home to an abundance of fruit orchards and fresh produce, with apples, pears, cherries and hops flourishing in a unique micro-climate – Kent is one of the warmest and sunniest spots in Britain.
As well as the traditional growing of soft fruit, often turned into jams and preserves, and likewise the crafting of hops into beer, another crop has also taken root: grapes grown specifically for the production of wine. The first commercial vineyard in England was planted in 1952. Within a decade, experimentation to find which grape varieties and viticulture techniques could thrive in the English climate led to a flurry of vineyards being established, mainly in south coastal counties, including Kent. Today, industry body Wines of Great Britain reports nearly 180 wineries and a 70% increase in hectares under vine since 2017.
It isn’t surprising. The underlying topography and soils of southern England are perfectly suited to vines. Indeed, 450,000 years ago the south of England and the north of France formed a continuous landmass, until glacial erosion and a cataclysmic flooding created the English Channel.
Gusbourne’s home village of Appledore is situated on the edge of the High Weald, meaning that our corner of Kent has a particular advantage from the additional presence of sandy loam within nutrient-rich clay soils. What that means is greater heat retention than in purely chalk soils, which give us levels of ripeness in the grapes in exceptional vintage years that allow for the production of still wines. Gusbourne’s commitment to using only our own grapes grown in our own vineyards makes every bottle we produce an authentic expression of time and place.
It’s also why we favour using local, seasonal produce in our picnics, tours and special dining events. In-season Kentish strawberries, fruit preserves, fresh tomatoes and vegetables, potatoes and cheeses. Romney Marsh lamb and native fish and shellfish. Artisan bread and farmhouse butter. Even Kentish charcuterie. We’re big believers in ‘what grows together goes together’ and we’re delighted to invite visitors to discover the unique flavours of Kent alongside our award-winning range of vintage sparkling and still wines.
Visit Gusbourne Estate in Appledore, Kent. Just a 15-minute taxi journey from Ashford International Station, or 10 minutes from the beautiful nearby village of Rye. Our hosted Discovery and Estate Tours include tutored wine tastings and lunch at our tasting room and cellar door, The Nest.
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