Millions of people in England enjoy a nice glass of wine. We all know that it’s good to drink organic wine, but it’s even better to support local vineyards, as England has many of them. Wine is usually sold in glass bottles, so just recycle empty ones in the bottle bank (blue wine bottles can go in green glass banks).
Support Real Wine Corks
Many wine bottles now have plastic wine corks. As we know, this is not good for the planet. Cork is ‘tapped’ from trees that support Mediterranean wildlife, so buying brands that use real corks helps to secure an eco-friendly industry. The cork industry in Portugal is in peril due to plastic wine corks, so please support it.
Is Your Wine Vegan-Friendly?
Be careful when buying wine, as many have animal ingredients in (did you know that Co-op’s Fair Trade wine contains milk and gelatine). Visit Barnivore to see if your favourite wine is vegan-friendly. Some brands filter with fish bladder and animal bones. Others contain milk, egg whites or shellfish.
Barefoot and Blossom Hill wines are NOT vegan-friendly. Most organic wines are vegan-friendly (check the labels).
Spar has recently launched a vegan Vine & Bloom range, as Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Rose. Most people live near a SPAR shop and the wines have been developed with a Northern Italian supplier, to complement their large range of vegan and vegetarian wines (Marks & Spencer are also in the process of transferring all their wines to vegan-friendly). Costing £6.50 a bottle, these have great reviews, and are ideal if you need to pop to the shops for a quick wine with friends. Aldi Prosecco is also popular for people on a budget.
The Independent’s wine expert John Clark recommends for vegan supermarket wines: Grillo (Marks & Spencer) and Ocado’s Proudly Vegan Wines (a Merlot, Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Central Valley and an Italian Prosecco).
You will find that most bottles of non-organic wine contain sulphites, which is listed on the labels. They are more frequently found in white wines and are used to keep the wines stable with fresh flavours. However, in many people they can produce bad hangovers (even after a glass), headaches and breathing difficulties. If this is you, try a glass of organic wine with no sulphites, and you will likely find the issue disappears (as long as you don’t drink too much).
Nice English Wines (south east)
- Davenport Vineyards began as just 5 acres and now grows 9 grape varieties on 24 acres of soil bordering on the Kent countryside. All the fruits are grown organically and managed by an archaeology graduate, who loves hand weeding.
- Oxney Organic Estate is the largest organic vineyard in England. The range includes sparkling wines, and the old barns have been converted holiday cottages. The estate covers 850 acres with traditional meadows that flood over winter to attract birds (migratory and local).
- Sedlescombe Biodynamic Wines was England’s first organic vineyard, which attracts over 5000 visitors a year to its Vineyard & Woodland Nature Trail. Set in 22 acres, the company offers red, white and rosé wines. Their Sparkling Wine does not cover the top of the bottle with plastic or foil like most brands.
- Breaky Bottom makes English sparkling wine, on the South Downs. Less than 10,000 bottles of cuvée are made, each dedicated to a loved one’s memory.
- Ridgeview grows exceptional grapes to produce modern fresh sparkling wines. All grapes are picked by hands on the South Downs in Sussex, on chalk and clay soil.
- The Harbourne Vineyard is a small English vineyard that uses hand-picking and manual basket presses. Promoting Kent wildlife, these grapes are grown just a few miles from the English Channel on Wealden Clay soil. The long growing season ensures excellent taste and no insecticides are used.
- Forty Hall Vineyard (London) supplies organic wine, grown by dedicated volunteers. This social enterprise manages a 10-acre city vineyard that produces Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and an award-winning Sparkling London Brut.
- Albury Organic Vineyard (Surrey) was founded by a retired IT professional, who now runs this family-run vineyard on the slopes of the North Downs. It offers traditional rosé wines and sparkling wines. Members of the Wine Club receive a free bottle and 15% discount. Surrey Hills Mead is not vegan-friendly.
Nice English Wines (South West)
- Polgoon is a very eco-friendly wine company, working closely with customers and others to reduce packaging. Working with Plastic-Free Penzance, they are almost plastic-free and also recycle their fruit waste for the cows next door.
- Trevibban Mill is a working vineyard tucked down a Cornish lane, just outside Rick Stein’s favourite town of Padstow. The surrounding hedgerows are full of blackberries and sloes, with the flowers being used to make cordial for champagne cocktails or mocktails. The vineyard is run on solar power.
- Camel Valley is Cornwall’s largest vineyard which has won many awards for its local wine. One of which was for creating wealth in the rural community.
- Sharpham Wine produces classic English wines in the Devon countryside, with intense fruit flavours and aromas, grown on sheltered slopes.
- Quoins runs a small organic vineyard in the Cotswolds, just outside the beautiful city of Bath. The company has transformed a bleak and muddy field into a wildlife haven and rich ecosystem of organic agriculture. They have also planted wild flowers and over 100 fruit and nut trees that flourish around the vines.
Where To Buy English Wine
- Vintage Roots is an online store where you can find lots of vegan organic wines, made with bentonite clay. You can also filter to your heart’s content here: find an English biodynamic organic vegan wine, with a real cork!
- Vegan Wine Box offers a selection of English and Welsh vegan wines, which you can buy as gift sets. Most are white wines, with a few red choices.
- The Goodness Project offers organic wine gifts with optional vegan chocolates (use a letterbox guard if out, to stop furry friends getting there before you do). Their Wild Thing Organic Prosecco (with apple & pear aromas) benefits the charity Born Free).
- Vinceremos is an online store that only sells vegetarian wines, with 97% suitable for vegans. This is not so much a local wine store, but a good option if you are buying international wines from Europe. Most are sourced from organic vineyards, run as small family businesses. Members of Friends of the Earth and Garden Organic get 5% off orders.
- Animal Aid and Viva! are both animal welfare charities that sell nice Gift Sets of vegan wines. Ideal for a party, Christmas or wedding, profits go to their wonderful work to help animals of all kinds, both at home and abroad.
Non-Alcoholic English Organic Wine
- Belvoir Fruit Farms (Leicestershire) offer fruit presses, ideal if you are not drinking alcohol or are the designated driver. These wine-like drinks are made with fresh grapes bursting with delicious Shiraz and Chardonnay note. Choose from red, white or rosé. The single-servings are made with real fruit juice and spring water. Belvoir Organic Elderflower Cordial is the ideal alternative to a white wine spritzer.
Make Your Own Wine
- Wild Winemaking is a colourful book showing you easy recipes to make your own wines. Richard shows you how to make wines with fruits like blueberries, cherries, peaches and pears – as well as herbs (rosemary and basil) and flowers (dandelions and roses). Recipes include Buddha’s Hand Cherry Bomb Wine and Cherry Black Currant Wine.
- Booze for Free is a book by a Bristol native, showing you how to make wine (and other boozy tipples) from free foraged ingredients. Using apples and pears, herbs and flowers, recipes include Elderberry & Blackberry Wine and Elderflower Champagne, as well as Sloe & Damson Rum, Parsnip Sherry and Carrot Whisky!
- The Organic Backyard Vineyard shows you how to grow your own grapes to make wine. You will also learn how to design and build a vineyard, how to select grapes for your region, how to maximise yield and how to harvest at peak flavour.
- The Homebuilt Winery shows you how to make 30 essentials for wine-making – including a crusher, a de-stemmer, presses, pumps and a bottle filler. There are also options for cellar racking. Plus how to filter, bottle, cork and label.