Biddenden Vineyards opened its doors to the public for a guided tour on a glorious June evening last week to help raise money for R.A.B.I.
Originally home to a 40-acre apple orchard, the Barnes family, who manage the estate, began to diversify into grapes in the late 1960s as apple prices fell and after hearing a feature on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour programme about English vineyards being replanted. The vineyard now spans 23 acres in a sheltered valley, close to the Wealden village of Biddenden.
Julian Barnes led 35 guests on a tour of the estate on a sunny midsummer evening. He explained how the first Biddenden wine was bottled back in 1972 – leading to some 80,000 bottles now being made each year from 11 different grapes, producing an array of award-winning white, rosé, red and sparkling English wines.
Sally Field, R.A.B.I’s regional manager for the South East, said: “We were fortunate to enjoy a ploughman’s supper washed down with samples of award-winning Ortega, Bacchus and apple juices. Biddenden Vineyards have been long and loyal supporters of R.A.B.I and we greatly appreciate the efforts of Julian, Sally and their staff for hosting such an interesting evening and continuing to support us as one of their chosen charities.”