Wine Storytelling at the UK’s Wine Hotel

  • The Red Story – The Judgement of Paris
  • The White Story – English Wines
  • The Sparkling Story – World of Fine Wine
  • The Fortified Story – Wine Education

Everyone loves a good story and what better way to enjoy a story than over a few glasses of wine? The Vineyard Hotel in Berkshire is the UK’s wine hotel and has plenty of wine stories to share. The hotel’s award-winning team of sommeliers know all about the vast cellar of some 30,000 bottles of wine. Here are a few wine stories all guests can experience at the hotel:

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The Red Story – The Judgement of Paris

The Judgement of Paris (or the Paris Wine Tasting of May 24 1976) is seen as one of the most pivotal moments in wine history. A blind wine tasting of French and Californian wines, nearly forty years ago, that forever changed the future of winemaking when unknown Californian wines were chosen over some of France’s finest by some of France’s top wine aficionados. Organised by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier, excellent Californian Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons were tasted alongside white Burgundies and Bordeaux reds. For Californian winemakers—and for winemakers around the world—the event transformed the industry.

Those in attendance included journalists Odette Kahn the editor of La Revue du Vin de France and George M. Taber from Time Magazine. A comedy drama film; ‘Bottle Shock’, was released in 2008 and is based on the Judgement of Paris and stars Alan Rickman.

From then on Sir Peter Michael, owner of The Vineyard, was inspired. The Paris tasting set him on a journey to California in search of a suitable vineyard location, which he found in 1982 starting the Peter Michael Winery in Knights Valley, Sonoma. In 1998 he opened the five-star Vineyard hotel in Berkshire, now established as the UK’s leading wine hotel. Here, amongst some 30,000 bins in the Vineyard’s striking glass wine cellar, over 800 Californian wines on the list include a unique collection from Peter Michael’s own vineyard. The story of the Paris tasting lives on at the Vineyard. The hotel’s impressive art collection includes a huge canvas of the legendary 1976 Judgement of Paris commissioned by Sir Peter in honour of the event. Steven Spurrier was invited to The Vineyard to unveil the extraordinary work of art.

Here, in an atmosphere devoted to gastronomy, guests may recreate their very own blind tasting with wines matched to each of seven delicious courses prepared by British chef Robby Jenks. Traditionally a French and Californian glass are served with each course and the diner decides which they prefer. Each Judgement of Paris dinner also includes two blind taste tests to decide where the wine originates from; France or California. At the end of the dinner, guests raise a glass to California or to France. Which country gets your vote?

Sparkling Summer Header Wine Storytelling at the UKs Wine Hotel

The White Story – English Wines

Statistics from English Wine Producers who promote wines from England and Wales, show that in 2015 there were a total of 503 commercial vineyards in England and Wales. The average annual production (bottle equivalent) was 5.27m bottles, based over a three year average of 2013-2015. At The Vineyard Hotel there are 10 English white and sparkling wines available. Enjoy a bottle of one of these English white wines with a meal at The Vineyard:

  • Essex 2014 New Hall, Pinot Gris, Reserve £30.00
  • Sussex 2013 Albourne, Bacchus £40.00
  • Kent 2013 Gusbourne, Chardonnay, Guinevere £59.00
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The Sparkling Story – World of Fine Wine

The World of Fine Wine – an award-winning magazine and website takes a sophisticated approach to fine wine with the world’s most respected wine writers offering authorative reviews. Each year the publication unveils awards for the finest lists. The Vineyard Hotel has been recognised for many years and 2017 included being awarded as having one of the Word’s Best Wine Lists and Europe’s Best Spirit List. Why not sit down to a story about these award-winning lists before dinner?


The Fortified Story – Wine Education

Tell the best wine stories with an education in the subject! Founded in 1969 to help educate wine and spirit professionals, the WSET specialise in courses for wine enthusiasts. The Vineyard hotel will offer Levels 1, 2 and 3 courses throughout the summer and beyond. The hotel has one of the highest pass rates in the UK. For Level 1, no prior wine knowledge is required making it ideal for anyone with an interest in wine seeking a deeper level of understanding. Overnight courses cost from £322.50 per person including a full day of WSET Level 1 Award professional tuition by a WSET-certified tutor in wine training including the exam, wines, a three-course lunch and tour of the vast cellars, one night (Sunday) accommodation with breakfast and use of the spa facilities including swimming pool. Aspects of wine covered at this level include storage and service, grape varieties, food and wine matching. Day courses cost from £199 per person including a full day of WSET Level 1 Award in wine training with exam, wines, three-course lunch and tour of the cellars. The course runs on Sundays in 2017: 17th September, 15th October and 12th November.


The 49-room Vineyard, with each suite and bedroom named after an iconic international wine is the ideal place to enjoy summer. Guests can expect a feast for the eyes too with the walls around the hotel full of art by artists including Henry Martin, Ronald Searle, Boris Smirnoff and Doris Zinkeisen. The Vineyard is also home to a spa with an indoor pool for hotel guests only. Whilst staying at the hotel, guests can explore nearby destinations including Highclere Castle, more famously known as Downton Abbey, just a few miles from the hotel.

Eat. Sleep. And drink wine. This is the hotel’s motto, along the way tell and hear a few stories.

The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 8JU 01635 897589

Accommodation and breakfast is priced from £247 based on two guests.