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Colin Firth moment for Meopham wine makers

PUBLISHED: 13:01 19 January 2011

Meopham Valley Vineyard

Meopham Valley Vineyard

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A DUO of independent alcohol producers are celebrating after reaching the finals of the Taste of Kent awards.

Meopham Valley Vineyard and Big Tree Cider in Hartley fought off competition from across the county to reach the finals where they will battle against two rivals in the Best Vineyard and Best Cider Maker categories.

Run by group Produced In Kent, nominees were voted for by the public to create a shortlist of 10 to go before a final three were announced on Monday.

David Grey, of Meopham Valley, was surprised to even find his company shortlisted.

He said: “It is absolutely fantastic. I feel we are now in our Colin Firth moment, on the Golden Globe trail as it were. It is really surprising to be nominated so this is excellent. The only problem now is you have this expectation so we’ll be a bit disappointed if we don’t win.”

The vineyard has been asked to pick two of its wines, a sparkling rose and a dry white wine to go to a panel of three judges alongside a report about their business, with the winner to be announced at a gala dinner on February 25.

He added: “The competition is best vineyard so we will emphasise the experience, being able to taste before you buy, and our tours, rather than just the wine.”

Big Tree Cider is run by Ray Claridge and his family, from his garden in Hartley and as the name suggest, grew from a single apple tree to production levels of more than 5,000 litres a year.

The company reached the finals of the Taste of Kent awards last year and Mr Claridge, 54, hopes to go one further.

He said: “We were named second best cider at the Kent Beer Festival so that was two second we picked up last year. It would be great to better that. Having said that we are very small scale so to get the kind of recognition we are getting is fantastic.”


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