Welcome to The Vineyard, aka ‘food heaven’ to those in the know, and a wine connoisseur’s paradise. The Vineyard at Stockcross near Newbury in Berkshire is the creation of Sir Peter Michael, who virtually single-handedly introduced Californian Wines to the UK, and this was the foundation upon which he built this wine lovers and foodies paradise. You only have to look at their website or their brochure to see what is most important thing here and, and that is WINE.
The Vineyard is homage to the grape; they love wine. They eat, sleep and drink it, and not surprisingly they have garnered many rewards as a result.
The undoubted ‘Centrepiece’ of The Vineyard Hotel and Restaurant is a painting, commissioned by Peter Michael, called ‘After the Upset’, which commemorates the day in 1976, when an Englishman, Stephen Spurrier staged a competitive ‘blind tasting’ of French and Californian wines in a small room in Paris where some of the leading French Wine ‘Aficionados’ chose unknown Californian wines over France’s best. Quelle horreur!
Click on the video and enlarge it to hear the story of The Vineyard and its ethos, the story behind the painting and the day the wine world was shocked by the ‘Judgement of Paris’. It was a cataclysm, or a revolution, depending on your point of view, and it opened the doors to the plethora of New World wines which subsequently flooded the British market.
From this moment, Peter Michael was inspired, and dedicated himself to the promotion and marketing of Californian wines, which is why, amongst the 3000 bins at the Vineyard Hotel and restaurant, you will find 800 Californian wines, including many from his own, prize-winning Californian Vineyard.
They also take their food as seriously as their wine at The Vineyard, and to Daniel Galmiche, their serial award-winning executive chef, the quest for culinary perfection is eternal.
Daniel Galmiche, Executive Chef and Alan Holmes, Restaurant and Wine Director
“Eating out is one of the greatest pleasures of life. I have made it my mission to communicate this.” Daniel Galmiche
On the evening we dined there, we opted for the lesser of the two gourmet menus, namely ‘The Discovery Menu’ which comprised four courses with wines selected especially to complement and enhance the food.
Our starters were a Parsley root Veloute, ceps and shallots, accompanied by a Bodegas Norton, Torrntes, Finca La Colonia, Mendoza, Argentine, 2013, and Carpaccio of Balmoral Estate venison, pearl barley, and horseradish, accompanied by Peter Lechman, Semillon, Margaret, Barossa Valley, Australia 2007.
For our next course we both chose hand dived Orkney Scallops, Heritage beetroot and coriander accompanied by a Coopers Creek, Alberino, The Bell-Ringer, Gisborne, New Zealand 2012.
The next courses were south coast Turbot, girolles, black cabbage and walnuts accompanied by a Benovla Pinot Noir, Cohn Vineyrad, Sonoma, CA, 2010, and a White Chocolate and passion fruit terrine, exotic puree, and coconut accompanied by an Yves Cuilleron, Roussilliere, Rhone Valley, France, 2011.
Finally, we had Almond Biscotti, sautéed plums; prune puree, accompanied by a De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon, New South Wales, Australia 1993, and Seasonal Farmhouse cheese platter, quince, fig cake and fennel bread, accompanied by a Ximenez Spinola, Exceptionnal Harvest, Pedro Ximinez, Andalousia, Spain, 2011.
A stunning meal which left our senses and taste buds fully tested and we both agreed that we had just experienced probably one of our best dinners of 2013, aided by the infectious enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of our Sommelier, Craig Stephen, and the Head Sommelier, Bomain Bourgermouth.
By the time we had consumed all these wonderful combinations, we were ready for an early night and retired to our extremely comfortable and elegant bedroom.
So whether you’re there on a romantic weekend, celebrating an anniversary, enjoying a family reunion or just getting together over a light supper and a few glasses of delicious wine, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a very special gastronomic experience. And to top off the whole pampered experience, there is The Vineyard Spa with its extensive treatments to balance your well-being.
The Vineyard also run Wine and Spirit Education Trust special courses and talks which are a wonderful excuse, if one is needed, to visit this exceptional hotel and don’t forget Burn’s Night on the 25th January and Valentine’s Day on 14th February. For more information click on www.the-vineyard.co.uk
The Vineyard has:-
- Five AA Red Stars – everything you’d expect for a comfortable night, and some things you might not
- An Award winning wine list
- Over 30,000 bottles in their cellars
- 3,000 bins
- 100 wines to taste and enjoy by the glass
The contact details are as follows:
The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8JU
Appreciation of The Vineyard at Stockcross was by Robert Jarman, Founder and Editor of The Vintage Magazine