A TASTE OF ENGLAND IN A WINE GLASS ; at Three Choirs You Don't Just Get to Sample the Product, You Can Stay the Night Too. Juliet Rix Did Both
Rix, Juliet, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Through the French windows, the sun streams down on rolling green fields covered in vines. On our plates are beautifully presented seared scallops that melt in the mouth. The wine is crisp and fruity and we don't have to measure our intake as our room is less than 50 yards away. We are not in France or Australia but at the Three Choirs vineyard, in Gloucestershire.
Three Choirs is one of Britain's largest and most established vineyards and the only one to provide hotel-style (four-star) accommodation and an excellent restaurant (with two AA rosettes), as well as producing more award-winning wine than any other UK vineyard. The mantelpiece above the fireplace is full of award certificates while, just to show they don't take themselves too seriously, on the wall is a bacchanalian scene of caricature British winemakers at harvest time.
The vineyard gets its name from the Three Choirs Festival, the oldest choral festival in the world. For the past 300 years, the choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester cathedrals have met once a year for a week of music. The vineyard is named after the festival because, until recent boundary changes, it sat at the joining point of the three counties - which means that it is surrounded by some beautiful and historic landscape.
The vineyard itself is set in 100 acres of attractive (now Gloucestershire) countryside and the owners encourage visitors to get out among the vines. A wine and nature trail has been marked out with boards explaining vine cultivation and local wildlife. Wandering between the planted rows, we discover a remarkable range of evocatively named ways of trailing a vine: "Goblet", "Heart", "Pergola" and, the most common system at Three Choirs, "Geneva Double Curtain".
Through a vine tunnel - lush with grapes in summer and autumn - we come to rows of vines labelled with the names of people who have "adopted" them, and a "Ladybird House". Ladybirds, the information panel tells us, are the winegrower's friend because they eat vine- consuming aphids. To keep the ladybird population up, the vineyard provides hibernation shelters for them.
Foxes too are encouraged (because rabbits gnaw bark and kill vines) as are many different birds, hedgehogs, "Jacks and Jills" (hares) and badgers (in spite of their predilection for grapes!). Ducks populate the rush-edged ponds and a damson hedge attracts bees, bullfinches and fieldfares, helping, at fruiting time, to divert the birds from the crop.
The vineyard uses no pesticides, which is reassuring not only when drinking their wine, but also as we survey the swathes of vine just yards from our room. Each of the eight bedrooms (all ground floor) has its own parking space and front door. The rooms are bright, English country comfortable and a good size, the sense of space enhanced by the large French windows opening on to your …
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Publication information: Article title: A TASTE OF ENGLAND IN A WINE GLASS ; at Three Choirs You Don't Just Get to Sample the Product, You Can Stay the Night Too. Juliet Rix Did Both. Contributors: Rix, Juliet - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: May 27, 2007. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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