Published: 11:31, 23 April 2018
| Updated: 11:53, 23 April 2018
Winemakers across the county have joined forces in a bid to tap further into the lucrative tourism market.
Seven producers have united with the county's tourism champion Visit Kent to launch the Wine Garden of England.
It will create a trail for those visiting the county and wanting to experience the boom in the grape crop which has seen Kent hailed as one of the world's fast-emerging wine hotspots.
Founding members of the initiative are Biddenden Vineyards, Chapel Down in Tenterden, Domaine Evremond in Chilham, Gusbourne in Appledore, Hush Heath Estate in Staplehurst, Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham and Squerryes in Westerham.
Between them, they attract around 120,000 visitors a year, and hope a combined approach will see that grow further.
Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, the president of Champagne Taittinger, which is behind Domaine Evremond, said: “Kent is one of the warmest and driest counties of England, and we were delighted to find some beautiful land, on chalk, near Chilham.
"We were welcomed with open arms by the other producers in the region and I am delighted that we are joining forces with six of the top Kentish wineries in the spirit of friendship, to form the Wine Garden of England and work together proactively to promote the wonderful wines of the region.”
Sandra Matthews-Marsh, the out-going chief executive of Visit Kent, added: “We are thrilled to be working with this pioneering group of wineries to develop Kent’s wine tourism offer.
"Together we will further establish the county as a stunning rural escape and England’s own Napa Valley, where visitors are invited to relax and explore, tasting a huge range of stunning English wines whilst learning the fascinating stories of these beautifully picturesque vineyards.”
As part of the launch, a new website www.winegardenofengland.co.uk will provide a range of visitor itineraries for recommended day and weekend trips to Kent.
These will include a range of wine tours. The site aims to eventually allow visitors to purchase wines from all the partners, and also create and book their days out, building a personalised wine trail around the county.