I was invited along to a press trip with Visit Essex to see some of the county's finest things to do! This included Vineyards, A Brewery and a Jam Museum/Tea Room! I had a fantastic day and although I have only recently moved to Essex, I can honestly say there are some fantastic days out here!
I don't really know much about Essex despite living here and often there are lots of preconceptions due to the Tv show 'The Only Way Is Essex'! However I was delighted to learn that Essex itself has the second longest coastline and 71% of the county is rural which is a huge amount! It's name comes from 'East Saxon' and dates back way into history! Manningtree is Britain's smallest town, Tiptree is the Uk's largest village and Essex is the Uk's wealthiest country according to EssexHerald.com.
There are around 600 vineyards and 140 winerys in England that all work together to create a booming industry with a whopping 3000 types of grape variety on the planet meaning there are plenty to keep them busy! There are only 15 vineyards in Essex, however not all produce the wine, but send their grape to a winery to be produced and bottled! Owning A vineyard is expensive stuff with 1 acre of vineyard costing around £20,000 before any wine is actually made! It was interesting to learn that the sale of sparkling wine has massively increased!
The first vineyard that I want you guys to know about is New Hall Vineyards. They are the oldest vineyard in the country! To get to the vineyard that is situated somewhere roughly between Maldon and Chelmsford, you drive up a beautiful long drive lined with tree's and you are met with gorgeous buildings. Lucy from the vineyard gave us a wonderful introduction with tea's and coffee's and then we were shown where they make the wine and I was so shocked at how massive the equipment was! They said that it was £200,000 for a piece of equipment and there was so much! I was extremely impressed with the vineyard, they obviously make tons of wine and it was situated in such an idyllic setting that a trip there feels like a gorgeous escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life!
Next up on the amazing trip was a coach journey to Brentwood to visit the Brentwood Brewery. These guys employ 10 people all a mixture of family and friends which gives it a real friendly feel! They started the Brewery as when sitting in a pub and drinking beer they realised they could do better... and so they decided to do just that! Now they send beers all across Europe and even have the youngest head brewer in the country! I must admit, I am not a fan of beer in general however I did have some and found it tasted extremely different to the usual types I have tried before. It was smooth and was even gluten free! Brentwood Brewery product on average 10,000-12,000 litres of beer a week which is so impressive!
What I love about these guys is that they aim to recycle as much as possible and even make dog biscuits out of the stuff that doesn't go into the beer we drink! They have a whopping amount of different types of beer, from BBC1 which is only 1% alcohol and perfect for if you don't want to drink much but want to still feel social, to the Lumberjack which has been named the best beer to have with Brussel sprouts! So how can you get involved? Well aside from heading there to purchase some amazing beers ahead of Christmas, you can attend one of their festivals or events, or head over there for a tour, private party or experience day! If you love beer, I would highly recommend a visit or a try of their beers!
West Street Vineyard was the next place on the list. We were greeted off the coach and taken into a gorgeous room upstairs with long tables set up with glasses of wine for us each to taste. We sat down and Jane Mohan the vineyard owner told us a little about the vineyard that she bought in 2009. She explained that there are 3000 grape varieties on the planet and that is the reason there are so many different types of wines available! In England however due to the climate there are only certain grapes that we can produce, East Anglia produces a lot of Bacchus - the fruit of East Anglia. English wine tends to have a lower alcohol content at roughly 10.5% and is often grown by the sea or lakes for climate reasons.
There were a lot of often asked question's answered by Jane and she most certainly knows her wines! First I was interested to know that despite people saying 'White wine must be chilled' etc, it really is down to personal preference and often depends on the temperature of the person. It is suggested by Jane however, that white wine should only be slightly chilled and not directly out of the fridge. The temperature of outdoors seems to have an affect on sales also, with more red being sold in the colder months and rose and white being purchased far more in the summer season!
Before attending the wine tasting I knew nothing about vineyards, so I was delighted to find out loads of facts. Apparently the 'treat them mean to keep them keen' phrase that is usually directed towards men, is also applied to vines! If you put the vines under slight stress it makes them work harder and this creates a better grape! If you make the vines too happy they don't product fruit! Another fact is that the glass the wine is in, does make a difference!! If you have a nice big heavy wine, putting it in a big glass will help the aroma and the smell. Decanting does also play a part in wine allowing it to breathe!
The wine tasting here was amazing, we then got given lunch which was honestly so good! The food was so yummy and the presentation was excellent! I couldn't have asked for a tastier lunch.
Dedham Vale Vineyard was next on the trip! I must say it is a beautiful venue and not only is it used for tours and events but also weddings! They started as a nature reserve and then decided to plant the grapes and create a vineyard, which has ensured that they maintain a self-sufficient way of sustainability and kept the wildlife safe and happy in their homes!
They get through about 32,000 bottles of wine yearly providing that it is a good year for them as quite often frost and rot can completely damage a vineyard. The vineyard itself used to be called Carters Vineyard however they decided to change the name to reflect the area that the vines were situated!
The Vineyard itself has 5 staff permanently and they employ agency workers to do the picking. One of the members of staff Simon talked to us about how they manage a walnut wood nearby and sell them which explains all the walnuts in boxes you can find at the vineyard! Heading to the vineyard you can expect to see lots of gorgeous greenery, a lake and some amazing wildlife has been spotted there such as otters, a kingfisher and buzzards nesting! With its wooden beams it is a truly picturesque setting and is a real escape off the beaten track.
They have some great tours and tastings you can try, in which after tasting their wines, I highly recommend! Aside from wine, cider and beer festivals that they hold yearly they also hold tours which include lunch for around £25 which is an amazing deal! After visiting and experiencing this gorgeous vineyard myself, I can safely say you should definitely visit.
Tiptree Tea Rooms and Museum made everyone extremely excited due to the fact that we knew we were not only going to get some little scarlet jam but we were going to try some Gin!
We first looked around their museum which was great as I had no idea about the history of the company whatsoever! I found out that the museum opened in 1995 and the company itself was started by Arthur Charles Wilkin. They had loads of old bottles, and explanations on how the company grew, so if your interested in how they made that amazing little scarlet jam... go there! We then got to try some of their gin. I didn't even know they produced gin so I was so excited to try them! I got to try Little Scarlet Strawberry, English Raspberry, English Damson and English Rhubarb. My favourite was English Raspberry and if you mix it with prosecco it is fantastic!
We then headed to look at the shop, which believe me is worth going to just for the sheer amount of products! They have so many jams its amazing!
They sent us away with an afternoon tea that was probably one of the best I have ever had, so a trip to the tea room's is certainly going to happen again soon!
So that's it.. all of that in one day!! Essex has so much to offer, and if you go and explore you will find some amazing things it has to offer!
I want to thank Visit Essex once again for inviting me along for such a wonderful day!
See you all in the next vlog!