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Wine Garden of England partnership to host festival in Rochester Cathedral

By Chris Britcher

A festival of wine is to take place later this year - the first major event to be hosted by a partnership of Kent vineyards.

The Wine Garden of England was formed earlier this year, in partnership with tourism champions Visit Kent, and features seven of the county's best known wine producers.

They hope by joining forces to market the regions wineries they can enjoy a boom in tourist visits and, consequently, sales.

Rochester Cathedral will host the wine festival in November - and tickets are expected to sell out fast
Rochester Cathedral will host the wine festival in November - and tickets are expected to sell out fast

Now it will host an English wine festival in the crypt of Rochester Cathedral on Saturday, November 17.

The venue was chosen to mark the place, more than 1,000 years ago, a monk became one of the first winemakers in the county.

Sponsored by Southeastern, there will be tastings and talks throughout the day.

The Wine Garden of England is a partnership of seven vineyards in the county
The Wine Garden of England is a partnership of seven vineyards in the county

The ticketed event will see see three two-hour sessions taking place with attendees receiving their own branded wine glass and sample 30 wines.

Tickets for one two-hour session will cost £50 and go on sale in September.

Charles Simpson of Simpsons Wine Estate, one of the Wine Garden of England partnership, said: “Not only are we giving people the chance to learn more about Kent’s outstanding range of wines, from the people who make them, but we can also raise a glass to Kent’s incredible wine heritage, stretching back more than 1,000 years.”

The grape harvest is set to deliver a bumper crop this year - enhancing the optimism among Kent's wine producers
The grape harvest is set to deliver a bumper crop this year - enhancing the optimism among Kent's wine producers

The event will be held in memory of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester from 1077 to 1108. Gundulf was a monk who came to England following the Norman Conquest and is renowned for building several castles and cathedrals, including those at Rochester. He was also Kent’s first known wine producer, overseeing the care of the vineyards in the grounds of the priory and the production of wine for the monks.

Dean of Rochester Cathedral, who is organising the event, Philip Hesketh said: “When Gundulf died, the monks of Rochester held an annual wine festival in his memory, hence my inspiration to restore this tradition. It was a natural fit for the newly formed Wine Garden of England partnership, and I am delighted that Kent’s flourishing vineyards have supported this initiative with great enthusiasm and commitment.”

The Wine Garden of England is made up of Biddenden, Chapel Down, Domaine Evremond, Gusbourne, Hush Heath Estate, Simpsons Wine Estate and Squerreys.

If a success, it is hoped the Rochester wine event will became an annual festival.

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