Last week the Virgin Wines’ tasting crew travelled to Brighton to host our very first wine tasting in the sunny seaside city – unfortunately it wasn’t quite so sunny, nor did we get time to see much of the sea!
Nevertheless, we didn’t let that dampen our spirits. We were all raring to go and eager to meet the 200+ customers from the area who came along to join us for an evening of wine tasting.
The tasting was held in the delightful Grand Hotel, a perfect venue for the evening with its elegant and spacious interior. Customers were welcomed on arrival with a tasty glass of Champagne before wandering into the Empress Suite to sip their way through more than 70 wines from our range. Here customers had the opportunity to chat with a number of winemakers who had come along to support us and show off their handiwork.
At tastings, we normally arrange all our specially selected wines on separate tables, according to their style – and Brighton was no different. We invited customers to work their way around the room to find out which style they preferred: “Clean and Crisp”, “Rich and Decadent” and “Huge Reds” all seemed to come out on top, not that there was any rivalry amongst the Virgin Wines staff over who had the most popular table…..
By the end of the tasting, the room was filled with plenty of friendly banter, an occasional scream of delight and lots of empty bottles – a sign, we think, of a very successful evening.
So another chapter in our national tasting marathon closed on a positive note – but our work in Sussex wasn’t complete. The next day, a few of us called in to visit our friends at Ridgeview based in the nearby South Downs. Ridgeview was founded in 1994 and has since grown to become a producer of internationally award winning English Sparkling Wine. We’ve recently started stocking their Ridgeview Cuvee Merret Bloomsbury Brut 2009, in addition to the popular Ridgeview Merret Grosvenor Blanc de Blanc 2008 and were keen to see firsthand where the wines were produced.
We’ll glance over the fact that we got a little lost trying to find Ridgeview (we blame our Wine Buyer – well, he was in the front seat after all!) but once finally arriving, we were treated to a fascinating tour of the winery, vineyards and cellar. Not only that, but we also were lucky enough to see part of the bottling process in action – it really was quite an eye opener to see the amount of work involved!
Unfortunately time didn’t allow us to get our hands dirty helping (probably just as well if our sense of direction is anything to go by) but as any trip to a winery should go, it allowed just enough time to sample the end product. Well, surely it would have been rude not to?!
Here are a few photos from our visit.