It has been a long time since we closed West Street. During that time, I feel so blessed that you have bought our wines and kept the business going whilst we were shut. It has been a very difficult time for us and for everyone – unprecedented. There have been some wonderful moments for reflection, the vines have kept us going as they still needed care and attention pandemic or not. The frost in May hit the vines hard, but if you didn’t know that we had a problem you might not notice as this remarkable plant has grown over the last few weeks as it tries to recover. The vines look fine but there is no fruit. It is a bit like the epidemic itself the world looks the same but it is not - it has changed maybe forever - hopefully for the better as we all need something good to come out of this. We will perhaps have little more time for one another, appreciate the environment we live in a little more and above all do not take for granted the simple pleasure of being together with family and friends. It is the latter which I think we have all missed above everything although it does seem that retail therapy was close second judging by the busy high street this morning.
We set up West Street to try and make delicious wines paired with local food shared with family and friends and hopefully we will get the go-ahead on the 4th July to welcome guests back for the first time in fifteen long weeks. We have worked really hard to try and make West Street a safe environment where for a few hours you can forget about the worries of the day to day and share some lovely food with friends and family. It won’t be quite the same though.
We do not think we will be allowed to offer tables bigger than six so if you are a bigger group we will need to put you on separate tables but near to one another. At the moment we plan to offer service mostly outside in the vines and on the terrace. The menu is completely different from what we have offered before – small plates so we can minimise the number of chefs that we have working in the kitchen so it is a safe environment for them.
We have used our survey which we are so grateful so many of you took the time to fill in so we could get a better idea from you what you would like to see to when we reopen. We have taken your comments on board so all our staff will have temperature checks when they start their shift and we will all be wearing face guards and we sadly won’t be able really to chat at tables any more. Service will be very different. There will be plenty of sanitiser and more cleaning protocols in place – the tables will be 2 metres apart and we will need you to serve your own wine and drinks. We plan not to come to your table unless you request a crew member so we avoid unnecessary contact – we are coming up with inventive ways to do this & we are trying hard to make sure that West Street is still a wonderful relaxed place to visit.
We are taking bookings for our planned reopening which at the moment is going to be for weekends only from 12noon until 7:00 pm. If you would like to take a look at the menu it is now online we hope you like it and if you want to make a booking we have put an online booking system in place on our web site to make it as easy as possible. Your feedback is always welcome, and we hope to see you in July.
English wine week…..
English Wine Week has been delayed from May until next week (a result of Covid-19, I’m afraid!). It now coincides with Midsummer & Fathers’ Day. With three things to celebrate, it seems appropriate to look at what wines can be enjoyed from England.
When we first planned our June events (back in February), we all thought that we might be offering wine tastings amongst the vines and guests would be enjoying lovely lunches on the terrace accompanied by a delicious glass of chilled West Street White or Rosé. Luckily guests are still enjoying our wines, but they are home in their gardens and instead of wine tasting in the vineyard, we are all doing virtual wine tastings or drinks on Zoom and Facebook Live & the like. Fingers & toes crossed that things will be less virtual in July!
To me, Midsummer includes long sunny days at the beach with the essential Fish and Chips. One of the best food & wine pairings for our most traditional lunch at the seaside is a delicious white wine from England. Being so far North, England’s vines are warmed, not burnt by the sun as it provides energy for the grapes to ripen. As Galileo once said, “Wine is sunlight held together by water.” If the sun is too hot the resulting wines can be too alcoholic and overwhelming – too little sunshine and the wines can be so acidic that it can almost make your toes curl. The great thing in England is our long autumn days of natural sunlight, giving our vines the chance to ripen and deliver lovely fruity flavours with great natural acidity and not too much alcohol - a great paring with cod and chips.
Waitrose has a good range of English wines available but our own West Street White (available on-line www.weststreetvineyard.co.uk with free delivery within 15 miles, or click and collect from West Street Vineyard on Saturday’s between 10-12 pm or Blackwell’s Farm shop). West Street white is always good with local shellfish, especially the local lobsters from Mersea which are readily available in June & July.
The Summer cries out for rosé; it is our best-seller on the terrace in summer months. Some people consider that this is not a proper wine; that it is just a compromise! This could not be further from the truth. Admittedly, there are some truly awful rosés which resemble sweet syrup and there are overpriced ones too, like Miraval (which has been a major success for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt). After nearly ten vintages, I still love to drink my own rosé from West Street which reminds me of sunny evenings in Southern France. Dry and infinitely quaffable with a BBQ in the garden it just works really well. Maybe Dad will enjoy rosé with a BBQ this weekend as it looks like we are going to continue to enjoy this lovely weather which is making life bearable.
At the moment, not many of us feel like celebrating, but English sparkling has built an international reputation by beating the rest of the world (including Champagnes) to win best sparkling wine in the world several times. It is a bit of a treat, but a bottle of English sparkling makes a wonderful way to say thank you or as a great birthday or wedding anniversary present. While they were hard to find unless you visited a specialist like us, good supermarkets now stock them; though I confess to loving West Street Sparkling above all others!
Whatever wines you choose for English wine week we hope you enjoy them…..