As England’s Oldest Commercial Vineyard, Hambledon Vineyard will be celebrating its 70th Christmas this year, in 2022. As life on our Hampshire vineyard has evolved, so have our Christmas celebrations. In the spirit of nostalgia in such an important year, it seems opportune to look back over the past seven decades of Hambledon Vineyard’s life, at how festive celebrations, both familiar and unfamiliar, have developed alongside our vineyard.
Hambledon's Early Years
In the early 1950s, when Hambledon Vineyard was established, celebrations may not have been so extravagant as they are today, by many accounts Christmas was a warm, convivial day - with the somewhat peculiar addition of aluminium Christmas trees decorated with colourful, plastic baubles. You could still find the traditional Christmas pudding being lit at the end of the meal, but one lucky diner might expect to find a sixpence in their slice, signifying wealth and good luck in the year to come.
In the earlier years of the decade, post-war rationing was still in force, with the Ministry of Food setting ‘Christmas Bonuses’ to allow surplus food on top of basic rations. However, food and fuel rations could not put a stopper on British festivities. It was in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth II made her first televised Christmas broadcast from Sandringham House, which in the coming years became a centrepiece for many families’ Christmas Celebrations.
Moving into the 1960s, while enforced austerity began to disappear, the sentiment remained the same. Many Christmas decorations during this period were homemade, in stark contrast to the wide range of commercially available adornments today. Paper chains were commonplace and silver Christmas trees continued to stay in favour for part of the decade, families would decorate with tinsel, glass baubles and more. At Hambledon Vineyard, our winemaking was well underway by the 1960s, so we can be sure that Major General Sir Guy Salisbury Jones and his family all thoroughly enjoyed a glass of Hambledon still wine on Christmas Day.
Festive Classics and a Developing Hampshire Vineyard
Moving into the 1970s, bright baubles and coloured lights were all the rage, with Christmas decorations often put up around a week before the big day. Advent calendars counted down to Christmas, but often featured pictures behind the doors, rather than chocolates as we enjoy them now. Set to a festive soundtrack of ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’, ‘Lonely this Christmas’ and ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, the 1970s saw the increased popularity of some of our most beloved festive traditions. A 1970s Christmas on a Hampshire Vineyard was almost certainly a joyous experience, punctuated with the finest food and wine.
In the 1980s, Hambledon Vineyard was still under the reins of Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones and Winemaker Bill Carcary, who was involved with our vineyard until his passing in 2021. At the time, the fashion had shifted to real Christmas trees, sometimes flocked with fake snow, decorated with lametta foil. The decade saw the release of ‘The Snowman’, a landmark Christmas film, even in 2022, and classic festive songs, such as ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’.
Though Hambledon Vineyard saw a break from viticultural operations in the 1990s, Christmas continued, with the Furby taking top-spot on children’s’ Christmas list, the release of festive favourite ‘Home Alone’ and ‘All I want for Christmas is You’. Celebrity chefs were increasingly popular and home cooks became more adventurous with home cooking, meaning some may have seen creative add-ons to their festive menus, as well as the traditional turkey. For boxing day, why not try our Head Chef’s Butternut Squash Risotto recipe, which pairs seasonal ingredients perfectly with our Première Cuvée Rosé Dosage Zéro.
In the early 2000s, tech became front and centre of Christmas gifting, with PlayStation and Nintendo gaming devices, alongside the first smartphones entering the scene, as well as PC games such as The Sims. The convivial Christmas lunch remained traditional, with the growing popularity of pigs in blankets solidifying a firm festive favourite, which many look forward to year-round. During this time, Hambledon Vineyard was experiencing a revival, with new owner Ian Kellett completing a geological survey of the site and replanting the entire vineyard with the goal of creating the Finest English Fizz.
The Finest English Fizz
In the past decade, the journey to create the Finest English Fizz intensified, with the first Hambledon Wines made in our winery in 2011, and the passing of each year showing a development in the nuance and character of our wines. Christmases gave way to tradition in favour of growing food trends such as veganism, sharing plates and artisanal food, with English Sparkling Wine taking centre-stage throughout the decade, here at our Hampshire vineyard.
In 2022, we celebrate a particularly auspicious Christmas, celebrating Hambledon Vineyard’s 70th Year is no small feat, and the festivities will undoubtedly reflect this. With many festive events having proved a great success, and looking forward to our Christmas Eve Pop-Up, our team plan to end our anniversary year with the finest food, and lashings of the Finest English Fizz.