I was lucky enough to be treated by my wife with a visit to Wickham Vineyard, and what a lovely trip out it was too! We only live 15-20mins away from there, yet we had never been there in all the years we have known of its existence. We heard all about the financial difficulties its had in the past, Vatika restaurant when it was there etc etc, and coupled with the general stigma around English wines, I was looking forward to it, but didn't harbour ridiculously high expectations.
Well, we organised a personal tour of the vineyard in the evening, wine tasting, and then with a 2 course dinner in the restaurant afterwards and to put it simply, it was superb. Julian, the French head Winemaker was a fantastic host - down to earth, very open and honest, but with a clear passion and unbelievable expertise in winemaking. I'm not a wine expert by any stretch, but enjoy wines and know a little. By the end, I genuinely knew a lot more about the processes involved! He also recommends the personal tours rather than the audio ones, as although they are very good the audio tours, they don't have that personal touch - there is also basically no price difference.
To cut this a bit shorter though, the food afterwards was absolutely divine! I had shoulder of Lamb while my wife had Fish, and the quality of the food and even presentation was outstanding! No surprise then that the chef learned his trade under the gaze of the one and only Raymond Blanc!
Add in the absolutely wonderful setting of the place, the restaurant views, the outside terrace and the shockingly fantastic quality of the wines (i didn't expect to like any, let alone 4 out of 6 we tried) and I really do think this place should be even more busy than it is!
I want as many people to go to this place as possible to help it get back up there financially, but equally I selfishly want this place to myself!
If it sounds like your thing, just go, try the personal tour with the dinner afterwards, and unless you are hyper critical of anything and everything I guarantee you will enjoy!
P.S - despite its appearance on the surface if you have never been, its not a stuck up, "only posh people can attend" type place. Its a working vineyard that happens to have a top class restaurant in it, but with lovely, down to earth people working there.
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