In Britain’s ‘secret’ vineyard, rivaling one of the best wine regions in the world

Warmer temperatures and similar soil quality mean that sparkling wine produced in Kent now rivals that of France’s famous Champagne region

Grape picker Tiberiu Sandu gets an early start to the harvest at Chapel Down, England's largest winegrowing vineyard, Kit's Coty in Kent
Grape picker Tiberiu Sandu gets an early start to the harvest at Chapel Down, England’s largest winegrowing vineyard, Kit’s Coty in Kent

While France has long been recognized as one of the top wine regions in the world, there is a new addition – none other than Kent.

Thanks to rising temperatures, the county “Garden of England” now has a climate similar to that of the famous Champagne region.

Parts of southern England and Wales are now experiencing the same temperature levels as Champagne was 60 to 90 years ago, they reported KentLive.

This, coupled with its similar soil quality, means that Kent has become a perfect place for producing French-style wines.

But while a fancy bottle of Plonk could cost you well over £1,000 – depending on the vintage – Kent sparkling wine costs a fraction of the price.

Kent’s climate and soil quality make it a perfect place for wine production



Sparkling wine can only be sold as champagne if it is made in the French region. But you can buy a bottle of Kent sparkling wine, made using the same method, for as little as £30 a bottle.

Ruth Simpson and her husband Charles are the owners of Simpsons Wine Estate, which is just outside Canterbury and is partnered with Reims in the heart of Champagne. She told KentLive the region has a calcareous calcareous soil very similar to France.

“One of the most important factors in growing grapes is terroir,” she said. There is no direct translation from France, but terroir refers to a combination of several elements of viticulture including temperature, climate, soil and composition.

Ruth Simpson and her husband Charles who own Simpsons Wine Estate outside of Canterbury


Stratford Archive)

She added: “There is a chalk that is not only similar to the terroir in Champagne and also in Burgundy, but identical. Therefore most of the vineyards are along the North Downs in Kent, through Sussex, Hampshire and into Dorset.

“People have been growing wine in England for years. But they planted the Germanic varieties because the climate is so harsh. While people have now switched a lot to the Champagne variety, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, because those are the quality varieties, we can make really good sparkling wines and still wines from them.”

Early harvest at Chapel Down, England’s largest winegrowing vineyard Kit’s Coty in Kent



Ruth added that cultivation know-how has also improved. England and Wales are now very successful wine producers and the British wine industry is currently recognized as one of the most dynamic wine producing regions in the world.

When asked if Kent’s sparkling wine could compete with champagne, Ruth replied: “Sure, absolutely. Some still wines are even compared to parts of Burgandy.

“But of course these quality wines are not nearly as expensive. There are many great English craft wines out there.”

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Marks and Spencer In Britain's 'secret' vineyard, rivaling one of the best wine regions in the world

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