Cruise the calm waters between France and England and discover a dozen islands and smaller islets right in the middle of the English Channel — these are the Channel Islands.
Jersey and Guernsey are the two largest islands and are home to ninety-nine per cent of the archipelago’s population. The islands are also a hotspot for everyone looking to relax with the most magnificent maritime landscapes. Water sports, fine dining and cultural sightseeing, the Channel Islands have it all!
The best part? Probably the most exciting facet of the petite islands is their wine, cider and beer scene. The weather here is perfect for crafting premium beverages and spirits, and talent abounds. So, where to start your thirst-quenching journey in the Channel Islands? Here are a few of our favourite wineries, cellars, breweries, cider makers and distilleries.
1. La Mare Wine Estate
La Mare is the largest winery in the Channel Islands, and they’re one of the most successful as well. They spread head the island’s winemaking efforts, and they’ve set the bar quite high.
The winery calls the north part of the Jersey Island home. It features much more than verdant vineyards, though — the historical buildings and splendid orchards paint a perfect picture of the island’s cosmopolitan yet countryside feel.
The estate’s white wine made with lesser-known varieties like Seyval Blanc and Orion is unique, and they also make a beautiful red with a blend of Regent and Rondo grapes. La Mare also crafts VSOP apple brandy, cider and some confectioneries. Everything is small-batch and hand-crafted with love; needless to say, the quality is unmatched.
By the way, if you’re looking for a gorgeous place for corporate events or your wedding in the Channel Islands, La Mare is the perfect stage for remarkable experiences.
2. Gorey Wine Cellar
Gorey Wine Cellar is a larger-than-life wine merchant with fifty years of experience in the fine wine and liquor business, and it’s a legend on the islands.
Although Gorey doesn’t produce its own wine, it does support over 500 wine, spirits and cider producers in the islands and the rest of Europe. “Life is Too Short to Drink Bad Wine” is the motto here, and they’re right.
Organic wine? Gorey has it. Champagne and fine Burgundy, they have it as well! For vintage Port or local apple cider, Gorey wine cellar, just a few miles from Jersey’s eastern coast, is a must-visit.
That’s right, the wine cellar of your dreams has always been on the Channel Islands, and you know what? There’s no better setting to try the finest wines in the world, and the company is lovely as well! Come visit and get yourself a bottle of fine wine to share with your loved ones.
3. Randalls Brewery
Just saying Randalls has been around since 1868 is reason enough to visit the historical brewery. That’s 150 years of local experience, and the hard work has paid off. You can find Randalls beer in over a dozen restaurants, boutique hotels and taverns around Guernsey.
Visiting Randalls Brewery is an overwhelming experience; this is not a small business anymore, but the beer and spirits that come to life here are still hand-crafted with love.
Explore the brewery, talk with the pros and discover why the Channel Islands are the proper place to craft artisan brews. And if you just want to taste the beer, know that you need not walk far anywhere in Guernsey before finding one of Randalls’ cold ones.
Not all beer is created equal. Sure, there’s some awesome beer all around the world, but others are just phenomenal. That’s Randalls, and you’ll love it.
4. Rocquette Cider
The cold climate and the chilly breeze running through the English Channel are ideal for growing premium apples. And where there’s apples, there’s cider.
Amongst the most exclusive and satisfying ciders in Guernsey, you’ll find Rocquette. The small, family-owned company calls the Fauxquets Valley home, and it is here where they craft premium cider from apple to bottle.
The orchards here are tended organically, and the entire process is quality-oriented and artisanal. And although Rocquette has gained international recognition in the past few years, it’s still a small farm the Meller family calls home.
Rocquette does welcome visitors, but don’t expect to be treated like a customer but like family. Be prepared to carry some cases of cider back home because the stuff is quite limited! This might be your only opportunity to try the finest in the Channel Islands.
5. The Channel Islands Liqueur Co.
Wine, beer and cider are all well represented on our list, but we’re not done yet. The Channel Islands are also the source of extraordinary, world-class liqueurs and spirits.
Channel Islands Liquor Company makes one mean gin, the Wheadon’s Gin, and even some tasty rum! The Old Sail Loft Distillery in southern Jersey is the company’s darling, where some of their finest distilled spirits come to life. Luckily, you can visit the Channel Islands Liqueur Company with friends and family for a fun tasting experience and or your co-workers for a ‘Corporate Tipple.’
If you’ve never seen an old copper still, be prepared to be wowed. That’s only one of the highlights of the tour in the magnificent distillery in the historical French Harbour in St Helier. In a way, distilleries are like candy stores for grown-ups, don’t you agree?
This is Just a Drop in the Bucket
The above are just a few outstanding wineries and producers in the Channel Islands, and we can guarantee there’s more where these came from. When you taste wine, beer or spirits from the islands, you know it. Quality is off the charts!
The most important thing, of course, is the people. Everyone here awaits with open arms for travellers from all around the world, and once you fall in love with the Channel Islands, you want to return every year. Let’s toast to that!
All these great drinks should be accompanied by some tasty local food. Find out more in the following article: Eating in the Channel Islands: The best of two worlds