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Warden Abbey Vineyard

Exploring English Wines!

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Bedfordshire to Warden Abbey Vineyard. Now, I know what you are thinking, I was thinking the same, the English are known for their beer, not so much their wines, but I have discovered they excel at both! The Vineyard is tucked away near the quintessential English village of Old Warden. We opted for the guided tour which was phenomenal and I would highly recommend it. It includes two tastings at the end. Our tour guide, Gerry, was absolutely fantastic! He gave us a brief overview of the Abbey and then we went onto the grounds and learned about the various grape varieties and a little history about wine making and caring for the vines. Warden Abbey Vineyard is cared for by volunteers and the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC). They do extensive outreach in the community with the vineyards, specifically working with schools in the area.

Warden Abbey Vineyards: https://www.wardenvineyard.org.uk

Now for a little history lesson...Warden Abbey was founded in 1135 and was home to a community of Cistercian monks who planted the two original vineyards, "Great Vineyard" and "Little Vineyard." Production was said to have peaked in the 12th century but natural disasters took a toll on the manpower in the 13th century. Henry VIII shut the Abbey down in 1537. The land came into the Whitbread family in 1786 and Lady Jane Whitbread successfully revived the tradition of winemaking on the land in 1986 following a trip to France. The land has been leased by BRCC since 2010.
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The Abbey would have been just beyond the building the background with the tall chimney.
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I learned there are about 650 registered vineyards in the United Kingdom, including four in Scotland. The soil here is similar to soil in Germany and best suited for white wines. The vines at Warden Abbey are about 35 years old and produce about 5,000 bottles of wine a year. In the vines' younger days, they could produce over 20,000 bottles of wine a year. Harvesting usually takes place in October. Gerry told us they don't have to water the vines much, except for the new vines. He also mentioned that muntjacs, rabbits and birds enjoy eating the vines. There are four varieties of grapes at Warden Abbey Vineyard: Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Regner, and Muller Thurgau.
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Various stages of growth of the vines:
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Grapes:
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There is also a medieval herb garden in the vineyard which grows herbs that would have been used by the monks.
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We also learned about the Warden Pear. Apparently it's a pretty hard pear; it takes four hours of cooking to be edible. It also stays good for several months!
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And of course I couldn't help myself, I bought the book.
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We also saw some beautiful roses and wild blueberries around the property. Gerry mentioned to us that winemakers in France would place roses at the end of the vine rows. The thought was that if mildew was going to attack the vines, it would start on the ends, rather than the vines, so the workers could hopefully see the mildew on the roses and take preventative action to prohibit mildew from growing on vines. Not so much the case any more.
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At the end of the tour, we tasted two wines: The Novicemaster 2018 and the Warden Abbey Brut 2015. Both were phenomenal! I am not a fan of white wines, usually only sweet wines or sparkling wines, but I really enjoyed both. The Novicemaster was named for the vineyard's master of wine of which there are only 350 in the world. The Queen was served the Warden Abbey Brut 2015 when she visited Dunstable for an event a few years ago. No one knows what she thought of it.
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We had a wonderful time at Warden Abbey Vineyards. The volunteers were absolutely wonderful and extremely knowledgable. The wines were fantastic, too! I'd love to return! On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 00:07 Archived in England Tagged england white vineyard grapes monks wine abbey historic warden Comments (1)

Israel Part 2

Golan Heights

In this post, I'll go over my visit to the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is probably one of the most controversial places on the planet (another is Jerusalem), so I will not get into the history or status today. The Golan Heights is bounded by the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee on the west, Mount Hermon on the north, the seasonal Wadi Al-Ruqqād (part of the Yarmūk River) on the east, and the Yarmūk River on the south. One of the things that the Golan Heights is famous for is wine. There are lots of wineries and wine specific tours. Agriculture is important in the area. I drove around with a friend who was familiar with the area. We covered the Golan from south to north and then cut across to the Israel-Lebanon border. I was able to see three countries in all during this tour day: Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. This was no short trip either, all of the driving and overlooking took about 13 hours, but in my opinion it was totally worth it. It took about three hours to get to the Golan from Tel Aviv.

For whatever reason, despite being sunny and very hot (reminds me of the climate in Florida), it was also very hazy.

I believe these are from overlooking the Jezreel Valley, east of the southern point of Lake Tiberias:
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Looking west to Lake Tiberias and the Tiberias area:
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Flowers at the overlook point:
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Destroyed Ottoman Valley Rail Bridge (looking into Jordan):
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Looking into the Israel-Syria-Jordan border:
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Derelict APC near Jordan River baptismal site:
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On top of Mount Shifon looking northeast:
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On top of Mount Shifon looking southwest:
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Memorial of a tree growing out of a destroyed M113 APC:
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View from tree/M113 APC site (Mount Shifon in the background on the right):
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On top of Mount Bental at Coffee Annan, looking into Syria:
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Found the sign for Trump Heights:
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Hula Valley:
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Nimrod's Castle:
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Villages heading west in the Golan:
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Sheep darting across the road:
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Israel-Lebanon border at Misgav Am overlook (eastern part of the Israel-Lebanon border):
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Looking into the Galilee from overlook:
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This was a really cool day of driving around. It was surreal peering into Syria and Jordan and being so close to the border. I felt the same way about the Lebanon border, literally a stone's throw away. Both being some of the most volatile areas in the world and I was right there!

Onto Latrun and Jerusalem...

Posted by LCP 02:51 Archived in Israel Tagged mount valley castle wine israel jordan lebanon coffee syria hula galilee golan annan nimrod tiberias shifon bental Comments (2)

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