Put up the bunting, pop open the fizz ’cause it’s English Wine Week. What better way to celebrate than a Muddy chin-wag with Rachel Gibson, owner of Wine Utopia
, on her favourite Hampshire haunts.
1. The Greyhound on the Test, Stockbridge
One of the loveliest pubs in Hampshire without a doubt – and the ideal place to visit in the summer as both the outside terrace and the garden are truly stunning. Sit by the river and enjoy a glass of perfectly chilled Provence rosé or choose from their ever changing menu, focusing on many local ingredients. Owner Lucy Townsend’s dedication to exceptional customer service and eye for detail ensures everyone is very well looked after.
2. The Chesil Rectory, Winchester
Exemplary food and service all round and the best Sunday roast you will get anywhere in Winchester.
3. The Dispensary Kitchen, Winchester
Newly opened in The Square, with beautiful views over the cathedral grounds, this is a super little place to enjoy a quality cup of coffee and homemade cake. I am looking forward to trying their new dinner menu soon.
4. The Bugle Inn, Twyford
I feel very grateful to have this as my local pub! Utterly heavenly food, with a classic menu that includes many locally sourced ingredients and a friendly, welcoming team who run the front of house.
5. Winchester City Mill
A wonderfully lofty, calming place to visit, owned by The National Trust and right in the middle of Winchester. Upstairs they are often milling flour, which you can buy in the shop (and it makes great bread). Downstairs you can see the River Itchen thundering through the waterwheel and otters are regularly sighted in the water too. I have used the main room in the mill several times for our annual Summer Wine Tastings and it’s a really inspiring space – perfect for appreciating all the layers of flavour in your wine glass.
6. The Pig, Brockenhurst
A real favourite of mine and my husband when we are down in Brockenhurst. Just a 30 minute train ride from Winchester and you can find yourself right in the middle of the New Forest. The Pig is in a beautiful old building, and the restaurant is in their gorgeous conservatory. You can dress up or dress down here and all the food is locally sourced, with a wide and well-thought out wine list – yet the vibe is very relaxed, which suits us perfectly.
7. Hinton Ampner, Alresford
Another local National Trust property that is lovely for a walk round and of course, the obligatory tea and cake in their café. The rural views from the house stretch for miles beyond the landscaped gardens, and you feel like you are really somewhere a bit special.
8. The Great Hall, Winchester
The Great Hall holds a special place in my heart as it was the location of our Big Kiwi Wine Tasting last summer – the biggest and most successful event we have ever held. As a New Zealand specialist I wanted to show our customers the best wines that are produced there and we were lucky enough to have over 25 wineries represented, with over 80 top Kiwi wines to taste – bliss!