Rochester Cathedral is reinventing a thousand year old tradition this weekend by hosting the first Wine Garden of England festival.
Gundulf, the Bishop of Rochester from 1077 to 1108, championed the cultivation and harvesting of grapes at the cathedral, so when he died, his fellow monks held an annual wine festival as a fitting tribute to the winemaker.
Now the tradition is being revived as the first Wine Garden of England Festival will be held at Rochester Cathedral on Saturday, November 17.
The festival, sponsored by Southeastern, is hosted by the dean and chapter of Rochester and the newly formed Wine Garden of England partnership, which features seven of the county’s top wine producers – Biddenden, Chapel Down, Domaine Evremond, Gusbourne, Hush Heath Estate, Simpsons Wine Estate and Squerreys.
The partnership aims to promote the county’s quality wines as well as its tourism benefits, and is working with Visit Kent.
Dean of Rochester Cathedral, Philip Hesketh, said:
“When Gundulf died, the monks of Rochester held an annual wine festival in his memory, hence my inspiration to restore this tradition.
“I am delighted that Kent’s flourishing vineyards have supported this initiative with great enthusiasm and commitment.”
A blessing of the wine harvest – an annual tradition in France – is set to come to Kent for the first time this week when the dean will conduct the blessing during evensong in the cathedral nave on Friday, November 16, when members of the public are also welcome.
Tickets for the festival are still available and cost £50. Though 2 for 1 and 30% offers are running now on the links below.