Come on now, I bet most of you have asked that question before, even if you didn’t actually say it out loud! Whether it’s the kids driving you mad during the holidays, your boss piling on the work, or you’ve just received the fifth telephone call informing you that you qualify for PPI…in times of stress I bet loads of you have thought about cracking open a bottle.
But in answer to the question, ‘is it OK to drink wine before midday?’ no it’s really not acceptable to drink wine before midday…
Well, unless you get invited along to do a vineyard tour of course, I mean it would be rude not to, right?!
So yes, last week my fab co-working group ventured further afield than the coffee shops of Petersfield and descended upon the tucked away oasis that is Blackdown Ridge Estate in West Sussex. And oh my goodness what a hidden treasure it is! This family run business produces white, rosé, red and sparkling wine, all of which are hand grown, hand picked, hand bottled, hand labelled in fact you name it, it’s been done by hand. Which is precisely what makes this place so special, because there’s just so much time, care and passion taken over every tiny part of the process from grape to wine, that you can’t help but taste that love in the wine itself.
You enter the estate through some private wooden gates that majestically open up as your car gets close – it makes you feel proper posh I can tell you. Then as you reach the brow of the hill the view that opens up in front of you is simply breathtaking; a sweeping blanket of pastoral paradise, surrounded by the gentle slopes that are so characteristic of the South Downs and as the estate opens up in front of you, you can’t help but feel as if you have been transported to a time of Enid Blyton innocence.
We were greeted by the lovely Lucinda, who literally oozes country charm, and as she took us for a tour in and among the vines the dark clouds miraculously cleared to reveal beautiful bright blue skies. Indeed the vineyard is situated in such a spot that it experiences it’s own micro-climate, a key ingredient to successful wine production and in fact Lucinda told us that theirs was one of only a few that had not suffered from the blight of early frosts that year.
There’s no mass production line, just an unassuming tin barn that houses all the equipment to produce and bottle up the wine. It’s really rather quaint and a real eye opener into how much hard work goes into making a bottle of wine.
Anyway, let’s face it we’re here to taste the wine and having tried out the rosé at home already, I can’t wait to try some of the rest.
The wine tasting is carried out in the owner’s (Professor Martin Cook) rather spectacular house, which adds to that personal touch that I’m certain you wouldn’t get at many other vineyards. Filled with rustic charm, and heaps of original artwork the house has real character and is perfect for hosting small groups. And Lucinda was the absolute hostess with the mostess having prepped all our wine tasting crib sheets and some yummy posh snacks – the cheese was to die for. We tried two lots of white; one from 2013 and the other 2014; two lots of rosé from the same years, and the pièce de résistance the 2014 sparkling number that is simply beyond good. That’s me sold! As you well know I love a bit of Prosecco (classy bird that I am) and this is way, way nicer than that – bring me three bottles bartender!
So, did any networking, business chat go down? Well…no not entirely, but you know what we all had fun, we all saw how a successful small business operates and the amount of hardwork that goes into getting something off of the ground and out there into the consumer market, and we all got a teensy bit squiffy over some excellent wine. Pretty damn successful I’d say 😉
If you’d like to find our more about Blackdown Ridge, whether it’s for a vineyard and winery tour, to host a networking event or to order some of their amazing wines, head on over to the Blackdown Ridge Estate website.
Thanks to Lucinda at Blackdown Ridge for her impeccable hospitality and my other fab co-workers that make our group the best:
- Elizabeth Mant @ Falcon Virtual Assistance
- Kate Box @ Kate Box Knitwear
- Chloe Smith @ Design by Smith
- Paula Hutchings @ Marketing Vision Consultancy
- Tony Chant @ Not Just Travel
- John Lloyd @ Blue Dot Display Ltd
- Julia Willmott @ Julia Willmott Fitness
- Louise Hammod @ Physiotherapy Petersfield
- Alison Edward @ Simply Balanced Solutions