Stop Everything: Queen Elizabeth II Makes Her Own Sparkling Wine

Photo: Ray Tang/REX/Shutterstock.
French Champagne might have the clout and heritage, but it looks like that revered bubbly may be getting some unexpected competition. The Queen of England herself, Elizabeth II, just tossed her crown into the world of winemaking and believe it or not, it's a homegrown affair.

According to Food & Wine, back in 2011, "the U.K.’s largest wine retailer, Laithwaite’s, was given permission to plant a vineyard at Windsor Great Park, a Royal Park not far from the Queen’s well-known residence, Windsor Castle." Since then, the vines have quietly been growing without much fanfare. While the world had its attention turned to more pressing matters and the royal family welcomed new additions, vintners tended the grapes, which are a combination of Champagne varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

The first harvest happened in 2013 and after years of waiting, aging, and totally forgetting that the bubbly even existed, the first batch of Windsor Vineyard English Quality Sparkling Wine (about 3,000 bottles) was released just before Christmas last year — and quickly sold out. Food & Wine adds that shoppers weren't necessarily buying the wine for its quality. After all, those vines will need a few more decades to mature and really develop that unique Windsor Park terroir.

That didn't stop collectors, however. According to wine experts, people are probably more concerned with the wine's possible resale value. "Rare vintages can go for astonishing prices," Tamara Roberts, chief executive of Ridgeview Wine Estate (where the sparkling wine was actually processed and produced), told the Daily Mail. "It is impossible to guess how much it might be worth one day [...] but it has all the right accolades, grown on the queen’s estate, the first vintage. Who knows?"

While the first drop isn't available anymore, the second delivery will be in stores soon. And believe it or not, snagging a bottle won't cost a royal fortune. The queen's sparkling wine is available for preorder now at British retailer Laithwaite’s at just £34.99 — that's about $44. Compare that to a bottle of the beloved Veuve Cliquot Brut, which goes for about $65, depending on where you buy it. We're sure that the Windsor Vineyard English Quality Sparkling Wine will be tough to buy for the foreseeable future, but don't fret. In just six or seven years, the vineyard is estimated to produce up to 20,000 bottles a year, so everyone will get the chance to raise a glass like the queen herself.
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