Fairmile Vineyard has been struck by the number of visitors escaping lockdown from nearby areas – but also from further afield such as London, and surrounding counties. Since re-opening in July, numerous visitors have made dedicated day trips to enjoy the stunning views over the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, sample award-winning sparkling wines socially-distanced outdoors, then dine out in town or explore the river. Often this is on foot, even walking from the train station, or on a bicycle tour.
This weekend, visitors are in for a treat again, when they will be the first to taste the 2016 vintage. This has the hallmark colour and astonishing taste of Fairmile fizz – though perhaps even more mellow than before, thanks to the addition of well-aged reserves from that award-winning 2015 vintage. In fact, the wines have already started picking up awards even before going on sale! Last Sunday, Thames & Chilterns Vineyard Association’s 2020 Wine Challenge was held at Brightwell Vineyard Wallingford with 39 wines from fourteen vineyards were entered from the Region – 12 of them in the sparkling category. Fairmile Vineyard’s latest sparkling Rosé and Classic Cuvée both won silver medallions. Owner, Jan Mirkowski said, “Hopefully these are the first of many awards!”
Government restrictions mean that individual parties of visitors must be limited to six, and remain socially-distanced, however there is no need to book or pay. Just turn up between 10am-5pm this Saturday and Sunday (19 & 20 September), and see the grapes ripening for harvest. The vineyard will collect contact details for track-and-trace purposes. Since outdoor furniture has been removed to reduce the number of touch points, feel free to bring a chair or rug, as in addition to free samples, the 2016 sparkling wine will be on sale by the flute or chilled bottle. The vineyard open days are also child and dog-friendly.
Why not make a day of it, by booking a meal in one of Henley’s sumptuous local restaurants?