Winding alongside the River Itchen into the stunning village of Tichborne, you’ll find yourself greeted by the cellar door and tasting room of Raimes, alongside a sun-filled outdoor courtyard.
This must be one of the most charming ways to enjoy the English countryside. Gussie, one of the founders, is on hand to take you on a tour of her prized vines, before hosting a tasting of the array of sparkling produced by them, bringing the journey of English vine to sparkling wine to effervescent life.
Scattered across a number of chalk hills in the South Downs, Raimes Vineyard is part of a wider farm, managed by a fifth-generation farming family who extended their legacy by planting 10 acres of vines in 2011. Tended to by a family with farming in their DNA, the wine here is all heart and soul, grown according to the season, flexing with what nature dishes up each year.
With the sparkling trio of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay wrapping themselves around the trellises, Hampshire’s climate allows for slow and gentle ripening to ensure a complexity of flavours in the final wines. English sparkling is naturally more zingy and fruit forward than traditional champagne, and at Raimes, this high acidity balances perfectly with rich orchard fruit aromas.
We tasted the Demi-Sec, a Chardonnay dominant sparkling that was fresh and light, its brioche creaminess melting into the slight residual sugar of blossom notes.
Vineyard tours run from May to September, at £15 per person. The cellar door is open from mid-May to September on Saturday afternoons, with the Summer Courtyard open from June to September (no bookings required). If you’re feeling peckish, there’s locally made pork pies and cheese boards to graze on as you sip bubbles in the sunshine.