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Hambledon and Ridgeview up the ante for English wine tourism

Published:  12 September, 2022

Two of England’s leading wine estates, Hambledon and Ridgeview, are continuing to drive the development of wine tourism in England with ongoing investment in their hospitality facilities.

At Hambledon Vineyard, ex-Michelin star chef Nick Edgar already runs a pop-up restaurant, but the estate isn’t resting on its laurels. According to owner Ian Kellet, Hambledon is “investing massively” in its hospitality, including a “future restaurant… and state-of-the-art visitor centre”.

The investments at the Hampshire vineyard, which also see a 400% increase in production this year from 150 acres of new vines planted in 2018, are being backed by the rollout of a major print and digital marketing campaign under the strapline ‘Shaped by nature, crafted by hand’.

Meanwhile, at Ridgeview Wine Estate in Sussex, a long-planned year-round al fresco restaurant called The Rows & Vine (pictured) has opened, with views out over the Chardonnay vines to the nearby South Downs.

Ridgeview has also been actively investing in its estate, with the completion of a new production and storage cellar just ahead of the pandemic.

“Tourism is a really exciting development for English Wine. With demand at an all-time high, our new on-site hospitality venue is a destination that can welcome visitors and guests throughout the year, overlooking the most stunning English views,” said Tamara Roberts, CEO of Ridgeview.

“Our vision is for The Rows & Vine to champion locally grown seasonal Sussex food, paired with our portfolio of exceptional sparkling wines, the very best that our gorgeous country and country undoubtedly produces.”

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The growing importance of wine tourism to English and Welsh producers has been marked in recent years, with some 200 of the 800 vineyards now open to visitors, with restaurants, tasting rooms and/or picnic areas increasingly common.

And the benefits, in terms of raising the profile and helping boost cellar door and DTC sales, are clear.

Introducing the most recent results of the annual Wine GB Trade Survey, CEO Simon Thorpe MW highlighted “an overall increase of 265% in the DTC channel in the past two years”, accounting for 57% of all sales in 2021.

He added: “The growing importance of cellar door looks set to continue, with a recent VisitBritain survey suggesting 42% of inbound tourists would enjoy a visit to a winery.”

Kellet, speaking of the new campaign at Hambledon, added: “Our drive comes from a simple, yet iron-clad, belief that our extraordinary piece of English soil has something so special to give that we can exceed the quality of the world’s finest bubbles.

“In the future, as we work relentlessly to shine a light on the elegance and quality of the British art of living, we will also create one of the top oeno-tourism destinations in the UK.”