Grape and Grain Tours
Grape and Grain Tours have been set up by Joel Eastman. Joel’s background is entwined with the alcohol industry. An Australian by birth, he became fascinated by the burgeoning whisky industry in Australia whilst he was working for Oak Barrel, a famous wine and spirits store in Sydney. To develop his passion, he moved halfway across the globe to the UK to join The Whisky Exchange.
Seven years later, Joel has progressed through the whisky industry, (representing Glenfiddich and Balvenie for William Grant and Sons), has been a gin distiller, (for the London Distillery Company and Silent Pool) and has now established his own company.
Grape and Grain Tours highlight and promote the best producers in the South of England. English wine, beer and gin are thriving and the consumer now seeks a much more indepth interaction with their beverage. The stories behind each brand are eagerly listened to and a thirst for knowledge surrounding production methods continues to push the alcohol category to new heights.
I’ve been very fortunate to witness the development of Grape and Grain Tours as Joel’s wife, Kirsty, (and their miniature Schnauzer, Dermot!) are good friends of mine. Joel’s passion and belief has shone through from the start and I’ve never had any doubt that this venture would be anything less than fantastic.
Today, the timing is perfect for organised day tours. Wineries, breweries and distilleries are all focusing their attention on continuously becoming more consumer-forward and open to the public. The demand for tours at each establishment shows the dedication of both the consumer and the producer.
Grape and Grain Tours offer two main tour packages – Hampshire or Surrey. I was very kindly invited on the Hampshire PR tour, a condensed version of the consumer’s day to give us a taste of what’s to come.
Each tour collects you from a central meeting point, (usually the train station) and takes you to a winery, a brewery and a distillery, whilst still finding time to stop for a two-course lunch at a gastropub! It is brilliant that you are taken to three producers within one day, covering all aspects of the alcohol industry.
You are transported from the train station to each venue in a luxury minibus, (another local company) which ensures that your day is full of comfort and free from any worries surrounding driving or navigation. Once you join the tour, everything has been thought of for you and you can simply sit back and enjoy your day. Between destinations, Joel regaled us with snippets of drink’s history, personal anecdotes and fascinating facts. You don’t realise how much you can learn in one day!
My tour took us to Hattingley Valley Wine Estate, Itchen Valley Brewery and Winchester Distillery. I had been longing to visit Hattingley so was thrilled when I found out they would be one of the destinations.
The Surrey Hills PR tour were taken to Greyfriars Vineyard, Hogs Back Brewery and Silent Pool Distillery.
Joel is working alongside several different producers, so the itinerary may change depending on which day you book for. If you want to know in advance which winery, brewery and distillery you would be visiting, simply email Joel and he’ll be happy to advise.
Tours begin in March 2018 and alternate every Saturday between Hampshire and Surrey.
Joel also offers private tours for special occasions, such as birthdays, hen parties or corporate events. You can choose which producers you’d like to visit and Joel will arrange a bespoke package.
Gift vouchers are also available which make the perfect present. Whilst you may initially think that £99.00 is expensive, when you consider that you’re getting three tours, a two-course lunch and private transport, it really is an absolute bargain and an incredible experience.
I highly recommend you book a day with Grape and Grain Tours – you’ll meet amazing people, hear inspiring stories and share outstanding products. Every producer makes you feel welcome and is proud to invite you into their home, whilst Joel makes the role of hosting seem effortless and a joy.