Luckily it was a glorious summer's day which meant that everyone was able to fully appreciate the hard work that had gone into making the vineyard and winery look immaculate. (Thanks, Phil and team!) All our guests were given a tour of the winery before enjoying a glass of Mill Down 2010 in the sun on the lawn whilst Ian escorted HRH around the grounds.
In the winery, Ian took the opportunity to explain in detail the production method for sparkling wine. As the daughter of a vintner, the Duchess is not only a keen wine lover but also has a good knowledge of wine production, so she was able to ask Ian a number of in-depth technical questions.
After a tasting of a selection of base wines from the 2012 harvest with the company directors, she even agreed to have a go at disgorging a bottle of Hambledon 2011 by hand, much to the nervousness of onlookers!
Finally Ian, the Duchess and the directors joined the other guests in a marquee on the lawn to unveil a commemorative plaque and raise a toast to the success of the new winery.
We were particularly delighted that she took the opportunity to say a few words, which was totally unexpected. Interestingly she voiced her hopes that English wine producers will work together to develop a new name for our home grown sparkling wines. Needless to say, this fired up all the attending journalists and TV cameras, resulting in extensive coverage for our event. Thank you, ma'am!