Monday, 7 April 2014

Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery

For my husband's birthday, I bought him a voucher for a tour and tasting and overnight stay at Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery. We went on the trip just over a week ago and were quite impressed by the winery's products.

On arrival we were shown to our room in the B&B. The B&B consists of four bedrooms in a converted farmhouse. We were staying in the Vineyard View Room, which did indeed have a lovely view, and I can imagine it would be even lovelier in the Summer.

Then it was time for our afternoon tour and tasting. Because we were B&B guests we were entitled to free tea and coffee before the start of the tour, which was a nice touch.

The tour guide first gave us some background and history of the winery/brewery, and explained a bit about the wine side of things before we went on to the microbrewery, where we learnt how they make their beer, which includes some kind of bottle fermentation. I nodded and pretended that I understood about beer (my husband, as you probably already know, is the beer drinker).

Then we were shown the labelling and bottling machines.
Bottling Machine

It was then time for the tasting (hurrah!). Firstly we tried the Special Cuvée, which was very nice, followed by the English Sparkling Wine. They were both nice, but I was particularly impressed with the Sparkling Wine. I had never tried English wine before, but I have to say the Sparkling Wine was nicer than a lot of Champagnes I've had (although Prosecco remains my sparkling drink of choice) - it was less sharp and slightly smoother than some Champagnes.

It was then onto the ales, of which we tried: the Gold Ale, Barn Ale, Dark Roast, and Damson Ale. I'm not a beer drinker (although I have tried), so most of these went to my husband. I did taste each one, though, but the only one I could tolerate was the Damson Ale, which wasn't bad, mostly due to its fruitiness. My husband liked all the beers, though, especially the Dark Roast.

We then moved on to the liqueurs... We tried a few different liqueurs including the Blood Orange, Damson Vodka, Wild Strawberry, and Lemon Zest. All nice, although I much preferred the citrus-flavoured ones, but that's a personal preference for me in general.

The tasting and tour lasted about 2 hours in total, so I thought it was pretty good value for money (the tour costs about £15 each, although vouchers can be purchased from other sites such as Virgin Experience Days, and sometimes they have offers on... worth looking out for).

Suitably squiffy, we were then let loose in the shop. I'm not sure if this was a good thing, but we are pretty much sorted for alcohol at home for the next year now. Having had a chance to taste some things again at home, I would recommend the English Sparkling Wine with a dash of Wild Strawberry Liqueur. Also, the Irish Cream is nicer than Bailey's (I'm not really a fan of the latter, but liked Chiltern's Irish Cream).

The emphasis at Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery is on quality rather than quantity and their products are definitely worth a look if you're into wine, beer, or indeed liqueurs. We enjoyed the chance to try English wine, as well as the other products that Chiltern Valley sell.

After a comfortable night's sleep in the Farmhouse, we awoke to glorious sunshine and the smell of cooked breakfast (included in the price) wafting up the stairs. All in all, a lovely weekend!