Spotlight on: Summer Drinking

Enjoy the true taste of summer with a drink that captures the essence of the English countryside. Fruit-based wines and liqueurs have become quite sophisticated in recent years and make a refreshing alternative to your usual tipple. Here’s what our producers have in store for your drinks parties this summer…

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VQ Country Wines

Fresh from its recent re-branding, VQ Country Wines produces 18 varieties of fruit-based wine all year round. For summer, they will be offering five seasonal varieties – Peach, Gooseberry, Summer Berry, Elderflower and a blend of Cranberry, Raspberry & Elderflower. Most of the fruit is sourced from the home farm in Longhope, Forest of Dean, as well as neighbouring farms within a 15-mile radius. There are several different ways to drink the wines. They can be paired with different foods (see information leaflets at the stall for food matching advice) and they are deliciously refreshing when served as spritzers, poured over ice with lemonade, soda water or tonic water to match.

3 Counties Liqueurs

Derek, Gill and daughter Flo work hard all year to produce 12 varieties of fruit liqueurs and wines. During the summer months, those that are particularly good for mixing with sparkling wine do especially well, especially the Elderflower Lemon Liqueur, Raspberry Brandy Liqueur, Morello Cherry Liqueur, Three Counties Cassis, and Blackberry Liqueur. Also popular is the Cranberry & Orange Liqueur which can be made into a long drink by adding fresh cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime, served with ice. The vast majority of all the fruit and flowers is picked locally, within the three counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. If spare fruit or flowers are available, the family also makes small-batch beer (Elderflower Summer Ale was a great success last year) and preserves such as Damson Gin Jam. 3 Counties Liqueurs have won three Great Taste Gold Medals, for the Damson Brandy, Citrus Spiced Whisky and Mulberry Gin, and two Taste of the West Silvers for the Morello Cherry Liqueur and Sloe Gin.

Days’ Cottage Apple Juice & Cider

This well-established apple grower produces some very special, award-winning single and carefully blended apple juices for the summer months and beyond. The earliest apples to appear are Irish Peach and Beauty of Bath, followed by Tydeman’s Early Worcester, Summer Golden Pippin, Discovery and George Cave. Depending on quantities, you could see some of the fantastic juice, freshly pressed and unpasteurised, on the stall once the season starts in August. Until then, get your fill of last year’s juice before it runs out! Alternatively, choose refreshing cider or perry, matured from 2014 – look out for Blakeney Red perry and the very rare pink perry from the rare Gloucestershire Beetroot pear.

Field Bar Wine

In June and July, it’s peak elderflower season so stock up on Field Bar Wine’s Elderflower Champagne. Sweet, fizzy and floral, it’s very delicious as a summer tipple, and at seven percent alcohol content, is not too strong to enjoy on sunny afternoons and picnics. If you want something a bit more ‘Saturday Night’, just add gin for this year’s updated G&T. Enjoy a taste of summer with the Strawberry Liqueur or mix it up with the Elderflower Champagne for a fabulous Strawberry and Elderflower Bellini. If wine is more your thing, try the Strawberry Wine – very dry, crisp and super refreshing on a warm evening. Go cocktail crazy by mixing and matching the wines – try making a Wild Hibiscus Pimms-style drink with lots of ginger ale and red fruit or Lemon Wine and Ginger Ale spritzers. Find lots of ideas on the web page or ask at the stall.

Bow in the Cloud

The English wine scene has been gaining ground over the last few years and English sparkling wine, in particular, is now taken quite seriously among international wine circles. The award-winning Bow in the Cloud wines, produced by Keith Willingale at his Noah’s Ark vineyard near Malmesbury, are no exception. The Quality Sparkling Wine for 2014 is showing good promise and the 2014 Cloud Nine blend has been certified as quality wine and has just been released. Definitely one to impress the guests with!