We are spoilt with award-winning vineyards right on our doorstep in Hampshire which sit proudly on our wine lists in HH&Co. Head Sommelier, Chris Parker, is not only passionate about his craft but champions the rising English movement, which not only helps us think and drink more sustainably but supports our hard-working English wine producers. We sat down with Chris to talk about all things local to celebrate English Wine Week (19th-27th June) and explore the vineyards just down the road from us at Lime Wood.
Tell us a bit about you and your role at Lime Wood and your journey to becoming a Sommelier?
I grew up in and around the drinks industry starting with the traditional English pub, from washing the plates to pouring Petrus. Finding a passion for wine, I started at Lime Wood in 2013 as Bar Manager moving up to Junior Sommelier, then Head Sommelier. I fell in love with the world of wine and since have been studying wine and serving in our wonderful restaurant. I now spend my days curating our wine list, looking for great wines at great prices to create a bespoke experience for all our guests.
Why is it important to you to champion local English wines?
The English wine scene is still very much in its infancy. Working to promote our countries beautiful terroir and hard-working producers is essential for continued growth in our sector. It is also a great way to help continue the global push to reduce our global carbon footprint by reducing the miles from vineyard to glass.
What is Lime Wood doing to support the English wine industry?
We have been championing the English sparkling wine for several years now, working closely with Hambledon Vineyards and more recently with producers like The Grange and Exton Park. We have also been working to promote the ever-improving still wines with producers like Simpsons Estate and Litmus based in Kent and Surrey respectively.
What are your top 3 English wines local to Lime Wood?
We are lucky that we are situated right in the heart of a leading sparkling wine production in Hampshire. By the glass, we work with Hambledon, The Grange and Exton Park. All three produce wonderful sparkling wines. The Exton Blanc de Noirs is a great food match, Hambledon Premier Cuvée is perfect for a special occasion and The Grange Rose is perfect for the sunny days we are longing for.
Where are some great local vineyards for a day out if you’re in the area?
Exton have just done a revamp on their site and now have a beautiful new winery set up with a small restaurant space nestled in the vines, well worth the trip down.
Hambledon also offer a range of experiences from tours to wine evenings. This summer you can dine in and amongst their vines with an Alfresco dining experience, sharing a grazing platter of Hampshire’s finest produce with a bottle of Hambledon English Sparkling Rosé.
With the industry of English wines continuing to grow, where do you see it going in the next few years?
The only way is up for this exciting industry. With vast swathes of land ripe for planting, exciting winemakers and consistent growth and investment opportunities, I do not see the boom stopping any time soon.
We are already seeing more artisanal production coming into play with producers like Tillingham in Sussex and Black Book Winery who are making the wines in London! I am sure we will see an increasing supply to match the already high demand.
We have teamed up with Hambledon for English Wine Week so you can be in with a chance to Dine in the Vines, and experience some of Hampshire’s finest fizz and produce with up to 6 of your friends! Find out more here.