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The Big English Wine Adventure is GO!

September 27th, 2017

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As the harvest around England and Wales gets into full swing, a new charity-focused English wine initiative is being launched.

The Big English Wine Adventure sees married Masters of Wine and TV presenters Susie & Peter teaming up with award-winning producer Hattingley Valley to make a top-notch, small-production Hampshire Blanc de Blancs.

At the same time, they are asking for help in not only selecting a charity to support but also finding a name for the wine. A lucky few will win some of the new wine as a prize.

‘The project is intended to be fun – but also fundamentally collaborative in nature, working to benefit good causes,’ comments Susie Barrie MW. ‘We want to help people get more involved in the process, as well as make some noise about the fantastic job being done by the many brilliant winemakers in this country – and we’d like to thank Hattingley in this regard. Primarily, though, our aim is to make an utterly delicious wine!’

Susie & Peter have produced two short films documenting their attempts at harvesting (Susie focuses on quality; Peter’s more of a quantity man) and blending (a critical decision, which is why Peter is largely ignored). More such videos will be produced in due course and a selection of short video teasers will also be seeded via social media.

The 1,000-bottle production wine is made from the 2016 vintage – the year of the Rio Olympics, Brexit, Bowie, Trump and the final BBC Bake Off, not to mention Andy Murray winning Wimbledon and Gary Lineker presenting MOTD in his underpants after Leicester City unexpectedly won the Premier League. It was also, incidentally, the warmest year ever recorded – and a promising vintage in the UK from a quality point of view.

The wine was sourced primarily from Cottonworth vineyards (managed by Hattingley Valley Wines) near Winchester, where Susie and Peter live. The base wine was part-aged in oak and is destined for considerable ageing on lees and under cork, with release pencilled for 2021/2022. Susie & Peter will also be looking to design a label and packaging in a collaborative effort with local students.

‘We’d love to hear from people with ideas for charities we could support that are close to their heart,’ says Peter Richards MW. ‘As for the wine name, we’re looking for inspired suggestions and hopefully we’ll come up with something a bit more original than Winey McWineFace. We’ve already had some great shouts, which have proved both amusing and thought-provoking, and we look forward to many more!’

Once all votes are in, and a final decision has been made on the charity to support, Susie & Peter will randomly draw a name from those who proposed this charity to receive six bottles of their wine. The same procedure will apply to the selection of the wine name. The plan, once costs have been covered, is for proceeds from sales of the wine to go directly to the chosen charity.

Susie & Peter will be joining in several harvests around the UK in 2017, partly as research for a book they are currently writing on English and Welsh wine. In addition, other wines may follow as part of the Big English Wine Adventure, depending on how the project evolves.

The story plus videos, photos and voting forms can be found on The Big English Wine Adventure web page on Susie and Peter's website.