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Our climate, soil and innovative winemakers have made England one of the world’s most exciting wine regions. Here we discover how the legacy of an industry pioneer is shaping the future of English wines.

The Hampshire village of Hambledon is as historic as it is scenic. Two of its more modern history-making moments involve cricket and wine. Home to the oldest cricket club formed around 1750, it is also the site of England’s first commercial vineyard.

It was in the first half of the last century that its former owner, Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones combined his passion for wine and his love for France to grow grapes on his property in Hampshire, having shared glasses with French soldiers during World War I, followed by serving as military attaché in the British embassy in Paris.

With vines from Burgundy and a vision to create English wine, Sir Guy planted the initial vineyard at Hambledon in 1952.

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Driving through the village of Hambledon and past its eponymous Bat and Ball pub you’ll soon find yourself amongst the rolling vines of Hambledon Vineyard, now 70 years old and celebrating its own Platinum Jubilee.

Owners and custodians of the vineyard since 1999, Ian and Anna Kellett took on its legacy with a goal to produce a modern, world-class wine. The first switch was to focus on sparkling wine, replanting the vineyard and scaling up the business for modern tastes. The French connection which started with Sir Guy continues today with the winemaking team led by Hervé Jestin, Champagne chef de caves.

It was through their interest in geology and passion for viticulture that Ian and Anna recognised Hambledon was cocooned by a very special terroir. for vines.. Put on your sunglasses here, the chalk literally glows around your feet, whilst the sea breezes may keep you cool on a vineyard tour, they are even more welcomed by the growing grapes during summer.

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With traditional champagne grape varieties newly planted across the estate, the team at Hambledon are out to create not just an eminent sparkling wine in England, but the finest in the world. It’s a challenge that a few decades ago may have seemed just a tad mad, yet with warmer weather coupled with a distinct terroir, supported by Hambledon’s state-of-the-art winery, where underground wine cellars have been cut into the chalk to naturally control the temperature and humidity alongside some exciting wine tourism plans….. all we can say is, the scene is set to meet the challenge head on.

Every other sparkling region in the world focusses on their domestic market, and it is Ian’s aim to create a wine that every Brit will be proud of. A responsibility laden with 70 years of history, perhaps a similar feeling felt (aptly a cricket quote for Hambledon) by one of the most famous cricketers of all time, Sir Vivian Richards who stated that “there was a legacy before I came in, and it was my job to take the baton and make sure I held it tight and ran like hell.”

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Never standing still, the oldest commercial vineyard in the country will soon be home to the newest vineyard restaurant in the UK. Architecturally impressive, with cuisine curated by Michelin-starred chef Nick Edgar, expect fine wines with a mesmerising view of rolling vines.

Nick’s CV is impressive with turns at the pass at various restaurants including Head Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in the UK and Alinea in the USA, (then the world’s leading restaurant) before achieving a Michelin star in Cumbria, at the Samling Hotel.

Locally handmade oak will make up the frames and beams of the building, whilst the interiors have been created by Fabled Studios, Hambledon’s new hospitality offering will also include a number of stunning tasting rooms, a visitor centre and shop.

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To complement their innovative approach to celebrating local wines, Hambledon have teamed up with another family-owned British brand in Purling Ltd to create an exclusive anniversary edition chess set. Designed to commemorate Hambledon’s 70th birthday, the aim is to bring people together to discover the beauty of traditional craftsmanship through the power of play.

We raise a toast to our oldest vineyard and look forward to the next 70 years, which in our eyes looks rather sparkling.

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Hambledon Première Cuvée £55

A Decanter World Wine Awards Gold Medal Winner, this Chardonnay-dominant blend is all lemon, orange blossom and red apple on the nose unfolding into tarte Tatin notes and a creamy, high acid mouthfeel.

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Hambledon Classic Cuvée £33

Fresh, fruit forward with that special English acidity, this stylish wine bubbles with pear, lemons and water biscuits evolving into a palate reminiscent of an apple orchard dotted with redcurrants and a toasty finish.

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Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé £35

A coral pink sensation, apples, rhubarb and vanilla give a hint of oak maturation on the nose opening to a silky-smooth palate of cranberries, grapefruit and pomegranate. A chic picnic party in a bottle.

hambledonvineyard.co.uk

*Please note, wines, experiences and prices were correct at time of visit and may be subject to change.