The heritage of Hampshire food and drink
PUBLISHED: 14:41 07 August 2015 | UPDATED: 14:41 07 August 2015
Our contemporary craving for all things epicurean has not only broadened our culinary horizons but our vinous ones too, with much of the finest produce increasingly to be found right under our noses here in the UK.
Hence it’s imperative not just to recognise the importance of your local food and drink industry but to actively support the businesses at its centre, from producers and suppliers to small farming initiatives, restaurants, pubs and those tasked with safeguarding the environment for subsequent generations.
The foundations of Hampshire’s own food and drink heritage can be traced to its richly diverse terrain encompassing coastline and downland, lush valleys and verdant weald, and the English wine industry is one of many domestic enterprises to have benefited from the county’s unique terroir.
With its naturally free-draining chalk soils, Hampshire is seen as the ideal backdrop for crafting superb sparkling wine and many local producers, including Hambledon Vineyard, have this geological phenomenon in spades. This, combined with considered investment in the industry’s long-term growth, has yielded some of the best-located Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes in the country, which in turn has forged a long-standing association with Champagne itself.
Another liquid asset that is thriving once again in Hampshire is beer, albeit not quite to the proportions its heyday, at the end of the 19th century, when every town in the county boasted at least one brewer. Today, Upham Brewery is the fastest-growing pub and brewery company in the south of England, with a large presence across Hampshire. Their core values reflect those of a traditional country pub, with a strong community focus, aspiring to be the life and soul of the local area. It’s this mentality that has led to Upham representing the county at major beer festivals throughout the United Kingdom.
Not-for-profit organisations also continue to play their part in raising awareness, amongst both the public and trade, of the sheer diversity of local producers on offer. In supporting these local businesses they connect the community with the artisans behind the foods we consume, thus helping to boost the local economy.
Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Warehouse Shop in Houndmills, Basingstoke, will be playing host to its own Food and Drink Festival on 5 September 2015, with local producers, wine masterclasses and an exclusive wine sale, all under one roof. In celebration of the county’s culinary treasures, the event will showcase locally-produced fare from the likes of Upham Brewery, Jake’s Artisan Foods, Hambledon Vineyard, Mr Whitehead Cider, The Baker Boys and Kokoh chocolate.
Food and drink festivals offer a rare opportunity to meet the people who grow, rear or distil our day-to-day sustenance with passion and skill. They also help to create a community of like-minded individuals where everyone takes responsibility – including the consumers.