I recently visited Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham in my new role as Minister for Tourism.
The visit was an opportunity to see how Kent’s booming food and drink sector can attract more visitors to the county and increase tourism revenue for local businesses.
You don’t need to go to France to stroll through vineyards and enjoy local wines and produce. It’s here on our doorstep. English sparkling wine is giving French Champagne a run for its money and creating jobs and a year-round tourist offer in the process.
English vineyards, like Simpsons, are encouraging tourists to venture out of our big towns and cities and spend more time in our stunning countryside.
Since 2012, Charles and Ruth Simpson have planted three vineyards around the village of Barham in the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is the first year that all three sites will be in production – producing enough grapes for 250,000 bottles of English sparkling and still wine per year.
Simpsons is one of several vineyards to have established in Kent in recent years. Seven producers in the county have joined forces with Visit Kent to establish The Wine Garden of England – a world class wine trail and visitor experience to put Kent on the wine map.