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WI Meeting May 2022

Last month we made cards, this month we tasted vermouth: vermouth made from English wines and sustainably sourced botanics; vermouth made locally at West Hendall Farm; vermouth to tickle the palette and bring a smile to the face.

Gnina Balchin, the creator and owner of In The Loop came to our monthly Tuesday meeting to tell us her story and let us taste her products. With a BSc in Food Science and Nutrition and an MSc in Oenology and Viticulture and the opportunity to live rent free at West Hendall Farm in exchange for nurturing the Hendall Farm Vines, she has created her range of Vermouths and Ready to Drink Vermouth cocktails that are brimming with botanical flavour. She is the first producer of an all-English Vermouth made exclusively from English wine and only English botanicals.

The business uses base wines that are not quite perfect for English Sparkling wine so would be discarded - they keep otherwise unsellable materials “in the loop”. The wines are then flavoured and fortified to become vermouth with fresh botanicals - including the essential ingredient of wormwood without which it would not be a vermouth - often grown or locally foraged by Gnina. The operation is solar-powered and every attempt is made to keep the carbon footprint low and achieve sustainability.

We tasted both her all-English dry and her semi-sweet vermouth. The former made with a white wine base, and the latter with a red wine base. The dry white has seven botanicals including Cornish camomile, gorse flowers from Ashdown Forest and home grown wormwood - a drink for the summer. The semi-sweet red is more exotic with Ugandan vanilla, Spanish orange peel and Devonshire cornflowers - a drink for the colder months in the year. To a WI woman we were enchanted, so we were lucky Gnina had also brought stock with her so we could take home a bottle (or two).

If you would like to join us at the WI, we meet once a month at Fairwarp Village Hall on the second Tuesday at 7.30pm. Next month, we have something completely different, a talk about our local charity Chailey Heritage. Please do come and try us out, we are always happy to welcome new people.

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