Wine isn't the first thing that springs to mind when I think of England, so I was pleasantly surprised when we discovered that there's a vineyard, handily positioned just over the Welsh border in rural Shropshire.
If you're looking for something a little different, as I was when my parents were visiting from Scotland, this is the perfect spot. After hearing that, firstly, there was a vineyard within driving distance of my home in North Wales and, secondly, that it served afternoon tea with wine, I grabbed the phone and made a booking. Wine and travelling are my two favourite things, so I'm not one to EVER pass up an opportunity to do them both at the same time.
Kerry Vale is a small, family run vineyard, boasting rows and rows of tasty looking grapes, along with a small store and a beautifully decorated and welcoming cafe.
The Cafe has views out across the vineyard, so you can drink wine and watch grapes growing at the same time.
The site has been established since 2010 and is already producing award winning wines, such as the wonderfully crisp and dry Shropshire Lady, which I have, since my visit, managed to drink rather a lot of. I'm all for supporting local businesses, you see.
The vineyard offers tours and tasting, helpfully split into various levels to suit different budgets, and these are conducted throughout the growing season. On the day of my visit, there was a full bus load of tourists in, so do make sure you reserve your spaces in advance to avoid alcohol related disappointment. Let's face it, we could all do with less of that, yes? Especially on a Saturday evening. But enough about my life.
At Kerry Vale you needn't take a tour in order to enjoy the facilities. You can simply book up for lunch or afternoon tea, like we did. The menu was set (as it was part of an offer) and each of our party of four was delivered plates of delicately cut sandwiches, vibrantly coloured macarons, and a host of other treats that prompty disappeared from existence. A glass of English Sparkling Wine was also included, but you can't visit a winery and try out other wines. I can't go to my kitchen without trying out wine, so I rather fear I'm already beyond salvation where that's concerned.
Share? What do you mean, share?
Anyway, you can order wine by the glass (large for me, thanks) or by the bottle and you can sit in or takeaway. We did both. The Cellar Door shop stocks the full range of reds, rose, whites and sparkling that are produced on site, so there are plenty of options to choose from for every palate.
If you fancy trying them all, you can order up a Wine Flight (3 or 6 50ml samples) or Taster Samples, which are priced at 40p each (20ml), or 6 for £2. This might help you choose a favourite but, be warned: it's a tough choice.
If visiting the vineyard; stuffing your face with sandwiches and cakes; drinking wine; and then buying wine isn't quite enough for you, you can also Adopt a Vine. This gives you 12 months ownership of a chosen vine, getting your name next to it, taking a tour (including lunch and wine), and getting to spend a full, unrestricted access day, literally (if you want to) sitting in the vineyard, talking to a plant. I imagine you could even sing to it, if you fancied. Just as long as you treat it with respect, you'll be good.
Kerry Vale is open from mid March through to Christmas, Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 4pm.