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

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

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

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

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz