We’re having to get a little more inventive and go a little further afield for days out now as the lockdown boredom is reaching new levels. I’d heard more and more about English wines and the upsurge in their popularity and quality so I booked a vineyard tour and tasting at the very beautiful Tinwood Estate, Chichester, West Sussex.
Once a former iceberg lettuce farm the current owners took over the family land but fancied a change in direction and slowly began transforming it into a vineyard in 2007. Taking around six years to produce a bottle of wine from planting, it’s a slow and costly process.
The location is perfect for growing the chardonnay grape; flint soil that is perfect for drainage, just three miles from the sea which keeps the frost at bay and the warmer southern climate meaning the grape has the best chance to ripen. All the picking is done by hand, a prerequisite in the Champagne region of France to ensure it’s authenticity, but as owner Jody explains, not strictly necessary in England.
To spend a great day out in Chichester, tours are available at 3pm daily as well as 12 on a Saturday and are interesting and informative enough for a wine lover but short and sweet enough for those who just want to get on with the tasting.
The vineyard produces three types of sparkling wine; Tinwod Blanc de Blancs, Tinwood Brut and Tinwood Rose. All of them very drinkable, especially in autumn sun in the beautiful purpose built tasting rooms and patio area overlooking the vines, with an excellent pairing cheeseboard.
The three dogs, pinot noir, bubbles and fizz make excellent tour companions and your own dogs are welcome to stay in the stunning lodges too. Just three lodges, all beautifully appointed with a jacuzzi bath, barrel sauna, decking area, free use of mountain bikes and the all important view of the vineyards are a perfect way to enjoy the wine on offer without a taxi home.
A beautiful afternoon well spent at the Tinwood Estate, remember to book before you go as places fill up fast at the weekends. I’d certainly recommend it as one of the best things to do in Chichester.
The Vineyard Tour & Wine Tasting is £18 per person and takes 1.5 hours. This includes three glasses of sparkling wine and a tour around the estate, after the tour you are welcome to stay for an extra glass or a cold bottle of wine of your choice. A cheese platter for two is £14