A fruity little number – from Cheshire?

This north-west county isn't the obvious location for a vineyard tour. Kate Simon suspends her disbelief

In the cool, brick cavern of Corks Out, a wine merchant in the basement of one of Chester's Rows, we're trying two white English wines: a blend of Bacchus and Schönburger grapes, and a Sauvignon Blanc.

The first is by Denbies, a leading producer of British wines. "There's a lot of fruit in the nose – almond, wild strawberry ..." suggests our expert taster, Peter Stephens, who looks after buying for the independent store.

The second, the Sauvignon Blanc, is by Worthenbury Wines, a little-known vineyard that takes up an acre of land behind the home of Martin Seed, a retired regional manager for Marks & Spencer.

"This has a lack of fruit and a lot of alcohol coming off it," says Peter, taking his first sip. "But there's great balanced acidity, zippy lime, hedgerow notes. It would be good with food. And the structure is good."

Peter isn't just trying to help me understand the Worthenbury wine, Corks Out is thinking about stocking it. He seems surprised at the quality achieved with a grape that he believes is an ambitious choice for this area.

But he's still not too happy that the vines are cultivated in polytunnels – he prefers grapes to embrace the sun. And he's also yet to discuss the volume the shop can buy and assess whether the price is marketable.

Down the road at the award-winning hotel The Green Bough, owner Philip Martin tells me that he is keen to keep things as local as possible – we are lunching in his restaurant, the Olive Tree, on produce from nearby Hoole and Delamere.

He likes the idea of a local wine and buys about 500 bottles of Worthenbury a year for the wine list. "People like to try it on the basis 'I've never heard of Welsh wine before,'" he says.

Hang on a minute, Welsh wine? My mission is to visit Cheshire's vineyards. It seems Worthenbury Wine comes from just a few miles over the county's western border, in Denbighshire.

But surely we can turn a blind eye? The weather there is largely the same and what is extraordinary is the fact that grapes thrive in this area at all. Caroline Hoppé of Visit Chester and Cheshire, my guide for the day, is certainly undeterred by this inconvenient fact and, anyhow, she has more to show me.

Our next stop is to see a vineyard in the grounds of a private home, Long Acre, in the Cheshire village of Bunbury. Margaret and Michael Bourne first planted the German varieties Bacchus and Phoenix in their garden five years ago, bringing in a harvest a couple of years later.

Despite the unwanted attention of mildew and badgers, the vines have made a respectable wine and, while it is for family consumption only, the project is inspirational for the garden enthusiasts who call by twice a year when the Bournes take part in the National Garden Scheme.

A few miles south-west, still within Cheshire, we find vines being growing for commercial purposes at the De Vere Carden Park Hotel. There have been vines here since 1989, though they were abandoned a few years ago and are only now being nurtured again under the orders of the hotel's owner, Steve Morgan.

Peter Pattenden, the hotel's golf and estates manager, shows me one of the two plots where they are growing two varieties of Seibel. It won't be long before they have the white sparkling wine back in production, he says. It will be sold in the hotel restaurant and the hospitality rooms at Wolverhampton Wanderers, for which Mr Morgan is rather better known – he's the football club's chairman.

With a little help from global warming, it can only be a matter of time before those French vineyard owners who are snapping up swathes of Sussex turn their attention further north.

COMPACT FACTS

How to get there

Virgin Trains (08457 222 333; virgintrains.com) offers fares from London to Chester from £13 single.

Further information

Corks Out ( corksout.com); Worthenbury Wines ( worthenburywines.co.uk); The Green Bough ( chestergreenbough.com); National Garden Scheme ( ngs.org.uk); De Vere Carden Park

( devere-hotels.com). Visit Chester and Cheshire ( visitchester.com; visitcheshire.com).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

Arts and Entertainment
art
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories