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World’s top wine experts ‘blown away’ by English wine and British gin

The world’s top wine experts were taken on a tour and tasting to highlight the best of British gin and English wine, while visiting London for two international conferences last week.

It was the first time at the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) had held a meeting in the UK, prompting the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to show the rest of the world what Britain does best.

In a bid to bring to life the excellent quality of the UK’s home-grown wine and spirits delegates from the WWTG and FIVS broke from their meetings to take part in a study day at an English vineyard and gin distillery and bar.

Bridging meetings of FIVS on Monday and Tuesday and WWTG later in the week the Wine and Spirit Trade Association took delegates first to Rathfinny Estate and winery in Sussex and then on to Chapel Down’s newly opened Gin Works in Kings Cross.

During a tour of Rathfinny the guests, most of whom had never visited an English vineyard, were astounded at the scale of the investment in the estate and world-class quality of the sparkling wines launched last year.

The tour was followed by a tasting and a lunch, of locally sourced foods, at the estate’s Flint Barns. The whole experience allowed experts in the industry and Government representatives from around the world to hear at first hand from Rathfinny’s co-owner Mark Driver his vision for establishing Rathfinny. 

After lunch it was back to London for a tutored spirit tasting hosted by wine, beer and spirit makers Chapel Down.

Chapel Down, whose winery and brewery are based in Kent, have recently ventured into spirit making and opened a distillery, bar and restaurant overlooking the canal in London’s Kings Cross.

Guests sampled two new gins both distilled from grape skins, and one vodka, followed by a glass of Chapel Downs’s English sparkling wine before delegates sat down to a dinner.

The range and quality of Chapel Down’s products served in its state-of-the-art restaurant and bar proved an impressive way to end the day.

Simon Stannard, European and International Affairs Director at the WSTA, said:

“With London hosting two international meetings we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to show off the very best of British.  Many of the delegates attending the FIVS and WWTG meetings, while experienced industry players, had never visited an English vineyard, so this was the perfect opportunity to show them a great British success. 

Delegates were blown away by the quality of the wines at both Rathfinny and Chapel Down as they were with the unique gins on offer at Chapel Down’s Gin Works.  Industry experts, from France, Ukraine, Georgia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, USA, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland were equally impressed with the ambition of both Chapel Down and Rathfinny to promote wine and spirit tourism by offering unique experiences at both venues. 

It was also a great opportunity to highlight the importance of maintaining the UK at the very heart of the world wine trade.”

The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wine and the world’s largest exporter of spirits. Many of the producers from WWTG countries have chosen the UK as their central distribution hub for northern Europe.

The event gave the WSTA a platform to explain to international Government officials and producers the importance of maintaining the UK at the heart of the world’s wine trade. And to discuss practical solutions to keep the wine flowing into the UK and beyond after Brexit.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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