Chilford Hall visit

Chilford Hall, near Linton, is the home of the Alper family and also the award winning Chilford Vineyard, one of England’s oldest vineyards and the largest in East Anglia. On Tuesday 11th October, a few of the Huntingdon Wine Appreciation Group (the WAGS!) visited the vineyard for a very enjoyable morning tour , wine tasting and lunch. Ably accompanied by Vanessa Van Heerden , Head of Events for Chilford, the WAGs enjoyed a tour of the vineyard, tasted 5 of the white wines , had a pleasant lunch – with a little more wine …and learnt much about both the wine making process at Chilford and the history of the hall itself.

The original experimental vines were planted in 1972; now there are 9 varieties and 17,000 vines (mainly transplanted from German or French vines) and covers 18 acres. In an average year, some 30,000 bottles of wine are produced and sold directly through the vineyard shop/online or a few local outlets. The Hall itself also has an interesting backstory. It was bought, along with over 300 acres of land, in 1966 by Sam Alper, inventor of the Sprite Caravan and founder of the Little Chef roadside café chain. The main house was refurbished as a family home, and still houses some of the family, and a (then) state of the art two storey block constructed alongside the House, to serve as studios for up and coming artists - art being another of Sam Alpers’ interests.The grounds are peppered with sculptures dating back to those early day. All in all, a fascinating and enjoyable event and one which the group is considering repeating in 2017.

Hunts Wine Appreciation Group meets at members’ homes, on the 3rd Tuesday of each month . It is a relaxed, informal and unpretentious way to learn a little about wines. The group is well supported but anyone interested in joining - and willing to be ‘wait listed’ for available spaces at monthly events – is invited to contact the co-ordinator,