Review of Hanwell Wine Estate - Talk Tour & Tasting

On arriving at Hanwell Wine Estate we were instantly welcomed with a friendly smile and most importantly a glass of wine! The rustic barn where we all assembled provided the perfect setting to begin our Tour and Tasting Experience. 

The experience begins with the history of Hanwell Wine Estate delivered with passion by Helenka, co-owner and founder. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for viticulture shone throughout as she detailed her upbringing on her parents’ vineyard, her decision to set up herself and the journey she has been on to get Hanwell Wine Estate up and running. Helenka then talked us through the vineyard itself and the reasoning behind some of the decisions they made when first planting the vines. This all segued beautifully into a trip outside to explore the vineyard itself.

Despite howling gales Helenka managed to talk us through the different varieties of grapes grown at Hanwell, pointing out the differences in appearance and structure of the different vines. She then walked the group through a year at the vineyard, striking the right balance of information so we left feeling enlightened. We then had a few minutes to walk around the vineyard through the towering vines, exploring the lake and peeking at the wildlife garden.

Back in the warmth we progressed onto the last part of the experience - the tasting! I have to admit that I was particularly excited about this bit. Before booking it is advised to arrange a taxi or a lift to and from the vineyard and I soon realised why! With 6 wines to taste it is possible to sample and spit but it does feel like such a waste! All the wines sampled were English wines, many from the Eglantine vineyard which is owned by Helenka’s parents. Unfortunately on this occasion they had run out of Hanwell Estate’s own wine, but I’m using that as an excuse for a return visit!

As the first bottle was being opened and poured Helenka gave some insights into wine tasting and what to look for. The whole session felt like an open forum, a discussion about each wine and our thoughts. Even on our table we got into quite a debate about the colours and flavours and what our preferences were! As you move through the tasting, each wine is introduced by Helenka with a bit about the vineyard it comes from and the story behind it. With 2 white, 1 sparkling, 1 rosé and two dessert wines there really is something for everyone. 

In a pure stroke of genius, as the experience ends it is kindly pointed out that all of the wines we’ve just sampled are for sale on the way out. With several glasses of wine tasted it’s almost impossible for anyone to leave without purchasing a bottle or two. It’s a brilliant way to introduce people to the variety within English wines and educate them in the process of winemaking. 

If I had one criticism of the experience it was the lack of red wine in the tasting. I’m well aware that white wine is the staple of English winemaking but in recent years English red wines have begun to catch up. It’s a small critique and a selfish one! It pales into insignificance when I discovered the first dessert wine I actually like, the Eglantine Cherry Wine, which we will be mulling this Christmas!

Overall I can’t recommend the Hanwell Wine Estates Talk, Tour & Tasting highly enough. Helenka is an informative host who clearly enjoys sharing her love of winemaking. The vineyard itself is beautiful; you couldn’t ask for a more peaceful tranquil setting. The entire experience was very informative and thoroughly enjoyable and we can’t wait to return. It would make the perfect gift for a couple or an ideal date night. 

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