This week we had the exciting opportunity to visit one of our local vineyards in nearby Hastings, run by the Carr-Taylor family. Linda and David Carr-Taylor planted the 21 acre vineyard in 1971, and it’s quickly grown to the 37 acres site it is today. Their son Alex, together with a small team, run the vineyard and its tours. Having won 36 awards and medals since 2011, Carr Taylor’s wines are well recognised and the vineyard tours highly recommended.
We left our office in Brighton and headed along the coast to Hastings, and although we had to navigate through narrow country roads to get to the vineyard, it was not difficult to find. The vineyard was well sign-posted and was immediately recognised on the Sat Nav – lucky as we’re not sure our maps skills are up to scratch! When we arrived, we parked in the large car park (free of charge) and made our way to the country-style shop.
With a few minutes spare, we looked around the shop to see what kind of wines and farm goods the vineyard produces. As we waited for the rest of the group to arrive were offered tea or coffee (included in the price) for a quick caffeine boost before our tour began. Once everyone was there, our highly enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide took us around the vineyard explaining how the vines are planted, pruned and picked from start to finish. He then took us to the mini factory-style building where the wines are manufactured and fermented, talking us through the whole process from bottling to distributing.
After being taken through the entire process of the wine making, we were ready for the tasting! Our tour guide led us to an upstairs seating area where the walls were decorated in awards and certificates that the Carr Taylor Vineyard has won over the years – it was fair to say there was a lot! We tried six different wines including two whites, rose and sparkling whilst learning about the history of the vineyard and the Carr-Taylor family. It was a great, friendly and fun atmosphere. Our host was very enthusiastic and it was clear he knew a lot about wine and its production. He made the wine tasting fun and light-hearted, even juggling the wine bottles at the end!
By the time we had finished the wine tasting, our lunch was ready, so we made our way downstairs and gathered in the back of the shop. There was a seating area with a country style buffet including salads, pates, chutneys, fresh bread and a large cheese board. Piling our plates high and grabbing our glass of wine (included in the price), we decided to sit outside as the sun was shining. As we ate our lunch we reflected on everything we had learnt and got chatting to a lovely couple who also attended the tour. Once we had finished, we decided to both buy a bottle of Carr-Taylor’s finest dry white wine to take home with us.
This was a great experience and it was lovely to visit a local vineyard, as there are not many in England! We would highly recommend the vineyard tour, wine tasting and lunch as a gift for someone else or simply to treat yourself! The sight is dog and family friendly and a great place to spend the afternoon topping up your wine knowledge and feel like a professional connoisseur. Whilst enjoying a nice glass of wine and a delicious lunch of course!