Stepping up to the plate

The Swan at Chapel Down

English Wine Week sees a delightful crop of new restaurants, inspired by English wine, opening their doors around the country.

In Kent, the last month has seen Chapel Down's beautifully appointed restaurant re-open as The Swan, with seasonal, local food the focus. Over in Hampshire, what was Vatika, Atul Kochar's out-of-town outpost at Wickham Vineyard, has also re-emerged as The Vineyard Restaurant. With Paul Dive at the helm, formerly of Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Aux Quat Saison, it's modern British fare on the menu.

And to complete a tasty trio, mid-June sees Bolney Vineyard's new bistro open in leafy Sussex, complete with homemade offerings from chef Dan, local foods from local suppliers - even a note of the food miles. Open from Wednesday to Saturday, 8am-4pm 

Way out west in Devon, Rosie's Vineyard Café at Sharpham Winery has just won the 2012 Best Al Fresco Restaurant in the Good Food Guide. This English Wine Week sees the winery transforming itself into an art gallery, showing works by “a raft of local talent”, so even more reason to drop by.

From field to fork

But you don't have to be a winery to offer a decent range of English wines these days. 

Calf's Head Wine ListOnce more the Calf’s Head in Clitheroe, Lancashire, is leading the way with its English wine list.

Last year it took the bold move to offer solely wines from these shores during English Wine Week, offering wines from 12 producers. Rather than being a one-off burst of English wine sipping though, Calf’s Head manager Patrick O’Reilly says that one in four of the wines sold now is English – that’s six times their original forecast!

“Despite knowing the quality and potential of the English wines, even we have been surprised at the immense demand,” he says. “In the first 12 months we sold almost 3000 bottles of English wine. That is over 50 bottles a week!”

New faces joining the likes of Biddenden, Denbies and Stanlake Park include Brightwell, Wickham – and also Summerhouse from Yorkshire.  "With long standing traditional ‘rivalry’ between Lancashire and Yorkshire, our opening gambit in the description reads “Yorkshire wine sold in Lancashire!” chuckles Patrick. 

Let me take you by the glass

Those out Cambridge way can head to popular gastropub The Carpenters Arms in Great Wilbraham for canapes, supper and matched wines on Wednesday 6 June, hosted by former general secretary of the UK Vineyard Association, Robert Beardsmore. Having only been open a year, The Carpenters Arms scooped several top pub ratings in the 2012 Good Pub Guide. £35, booking required.

Further information

Visit English Wine Week website for further details on events in your area.

Here's my top London tips for English-wine inspired eateries during June, and a bit of a round-up of other Wine Week activities.