While the production of English Sparkling Wine is relatively new and not a time-honored tradition as it is in Champagne and other sparkling wine regions, it is on an upward trajectory in terms of quality and respect. The cool climate, as well as the chalk and gravel soils beckon to be planted with grapes hoping to show off their elevated acidity and expressions of terroir. Additionally, the region hopped on the hospitality train right away and boasts lovely winery and vineyard visiting opportunities.
Fizz, as it is delightfully called, is made in the traditional method and mainly made with the same grapes as Champagne—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. There are PDO and PGI classifications in place—the PGI classification being much less restrictive, allowing for over 90 grape varieties to be used. The method of production for “English” or “English Regional” sparkling wine is usually the traditional (Champagne) method.
Fizz began being made in the early ‘80s using Reichensteiner and Schönburger grapes and then in the ‘90s, producers began to see the potential for sparkling production and started to plant Champagne grapes. In fact, England produced very little wine in general up until this time, and even today a majority of the wines made are sparkling. The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) projects that English fizz production will double by the year 2022 to approximately 10 million bottles annually—about a quarter of which will be headed to the States.
Here are a few English fizz bottles you can find in the States now, and (since our readers are wine travelers) some fun wineries to visit in England.
English Sparkling Wines You Can Find in the United States
(Imported by Valkyrie Selections, San Francisco) Hattingley Valley Gentle can be found in Hampshire. Their motto is, “Unapologetically British” and they have an enchanting Alice in Wonderland tea party experience on their property. The family vineyard produces a range of wines, mostly sparkling, but also some still reds and whites, as well as a dessert-wine.
(Imported by ABCK, New York) Chapel Down is located in Kent. They produce a variety of fizz, as well as beer, gin, vodka, and brandy. This might be one of the easiest wines to find and is a very important winery in England.
(Imported by Banville, New York) see below.
(Imported by Vine Street Imports, Mt. Laurel, N.J.) Harrow & Hope is located in Marlow, which is in the Wycombe District of South Buckinghamshire. This newer and family-style winery practices organic viticulture.
(Imported by Valkyrie Selections) Nyetimber Wines is another fizz producer leaning into the difference that sets England apart from other sparkling regions. Their motto is “Perfectly British.” One of the first producers of fizz, they began planting in Sussex specifically for sparkling wine in 1988.
(Imported by Broadbent Selections, Richmond, Va.) Gusbourne is also located in Kent and favors minimal-intervention with their production practices. While they have a number of styles, they are known for their Blanc de Blancs.
(Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York) Wiston Estate sits on South Downs National Park in West Sussex. The land has been in the Goring family since 1743 and covers an astounding 6,000 acres. Sixteen acres of vines were planted in 2006 and have been managed as organically as possible from the very beginning.
Wineries To Visit in England
Denbies resides in the Dorking area of Surrey and is one of the largest wineries in all of England. It has an upscale restaurant, as well as a more casual bistro to enjoy. The best part is the vineyard train ride—it’s an hour-long journey through the most beautiful spots in the vineyard overlooking stunning vistas.
Ridgeview can be found in East Sussex and sits on the beautiful South Downs. They offers vineyard and winery tours along with tastings. Another way to enjoy this picturesque place is to visit their wine garden (like a Biergarten, but better). It’s also family-friendly and serves what they call “Folkington” juices for the little ones. Each August, the winery hosts Ridgefest that includes live bands, DJ sets, silent disco, street food and a cocktail lounge, in addition to regular vineyard tours and wine tastings.
This property in Sussex is the perfect spot to extend your winery experience and spend the night. They offer lodging at Flint Barns, which is a lovely B&B to stay at overlooking South Downs National Park and serving up local, country fare. Rathfinny was first established in 2010, and 2018 was its first vintage but the winery is already seeing a lot of praise.
Camel Valley winery in Cornwall is another charming destination to visit and stay the night. Guests can rent out a cottage to relax in after a day of tasting and dining. Among the natural beauty of the Cornish countryside is Camel River which is a spot known by local fishermen for salmon and sea trout.