“I can taste the wine, sitting either side of my tongue.”
I told Jane Mohan, Owner and Viticulturist at West Street Vineyard, Coggelshall. After I had taken my first sip and as we sat on the terrace, overlooking the grapevine covered vineyard.
I noticed the wooden benches below us, offering a more casual seating area. A table tennis table is available for the kids and a neatly finished wooden play area, has been lovingly put up. Taking care of all ages of visitors who decide to pop out to The Wine Barn Café for coffee-breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or even just a glass of their Rosé, Sparkling white or dry white wine. The three types of grapes grown here.I can taste the wine, sitting either side of my tongue.” I told Jane Mohan, Owner and Viticulturist at West Street Vineyard, Coggelshall.
“That’s the acidity.” Was her response. “The wine is designed to be served with our seafood platter. Our wine is meant to go with food. Have some fun and relax with the kids or the grandparents. Family and friends. That for me, is what wine is all about. That’s the culture of wine.
It had taken me 25 minutes to drive to Coggelshall from Southend – the route finder had told me 45 but the A130 to Chelmsford and A12 towards Colchester weren’t busy and once off at junction 23 on the B1024 signposted Kelvedon, Coggelshall was easy to find. Interestingly enough as you approach the little village you cross a bridge over the river. Many many years ago, Jane informed me the monks would sit at the bridge and charge a toll to those wanting to cross it.
Jane is a specialist in all of this but what I knew as I sipped my wine – it felt like I was spending time with a beautiful blonde – rather a strange thought that popped into my head but one which seemed surprisingly apt.
Later I realised that I had tasted probably the nicest, lightest and most balanced white wine I’d ever had and ironically enough it didn’t come from Italy, France, Australia or New Zealand but from the countryside in our little county of Essex. No wonder this week it had just received a nationally awarded silver medal. The wine I was drinking was a bronze medal winner.
Jane’s fun-loving nature certainly showed itself around the café, as I read the quotes on the walls.
Hands on would definitely describe Jane, as around 13.15 a queue began to appear at the door (book beforehand if you can) and Jane was up, serving customers, checking out how the staff were managing – concerned that both staff and customers were enjoying the experience.
As we were eating lunch her head lifted when the sound coming from the coffee machine garbled away. I watched her mind whir. Her vision and desire for the experience of the customer – does not involve invasive noises, interrupting their afternoon.
As I sat, I listened to the hum of conversation filling the room, watched the family with their pre school aged child, enjoy a long and lazy lunch. Observed the hustle of the waiting staff as they magnificently maintained good customer service, and felt a deep relaxing quiet in my belly. Interesting, I thought.
I began to wonder what other mysteries were there to unfold locally. With 9 million people living within an hour of West Street Vineyard, Jane is hoping that many would be popping along to Coggleshall for a day out, to find out a little more about her vineyard. In august there are guided walks around it.
In her words, Jane is trying: “To provide really lovely food, sourced as locally as possible. Really simple food with a lovely glass of wine.” I think she’s succeeded.
Ordering our lunch, I decided to opt for the homemade Broccoli and Brie Quiche, served with a mixed salad off the general menu. Jane decided to opt for the local slow lamb pilaf, summer vegetables with basil and mint yoghurt off the set lunch menu, which looked delicious.
When I cut into the generously sized portion of Quiche, the brie oozed out of the middle. The salad was fresh and light, featured radishes which were sweet to the bite and croutons that offered a light crunch but had managed to maintain their moistness.
For dessert, I couldn’t resist trying the dark chocolate & roasted peanut butter tart. I wondered on its arrival if it would be a bit dry, as it was served with 3 raspberries and no sauce but surprisingly enough the chocolate was creamy and delicious, the pastry simply melted in my mouth and the tang of the raspberries brought out the flavour of the roasted peanut butter. I was in foodie heaven and salivated over every mouthful.
Jane opted for the Vanilla panna cotta with berry compote which also look delicious.
I’ve lived in Essex my whole life and it still manages to surprise me and turn up unique and interesting places to explore, enjoy and indulge in.
Would you like to eat out in Coggelshall Essex, at West Street Vineyards, Wine barn Café?