I know what you are thinking, wine and children hardly makes for a good family day out. Oh but it does when it comes to La Mare Wine Estate. It makes for a marvellous day out and a bargainous one at that! After finding ourselves stuck indoors for two days due to what felt like never-ending rain and then a rather bizarre episode of sickness for Youngest, we escaped. It was a rather grey day to start and there was intermittent drizzle which meant a trip to the beach was a no go. Therefore, we decided to catch the bus to La Mare Wine Estate.
The Wheels On The Bus Go….
Catching the bus made this even more of an adventure for the children and it meant that mummy and daddy could sensibly sample some of the wines without fear of being over the limit. I’m a lightweight nowadays and one sniff of a Sauvignon Blanc and I feel decidedly tipsy. You can catch the bus from St Helier bus station and it will take about 40 minutes to get to the La Mare Wine Estate. The bus is £2 for an adult and £1 for a child.
We nabbed the best seats on the bus: the back seats obviously. The children excitedly stuck their faces to the windows and were quite possibly the quietest I have known them to be. It turns out that buses seems to have some sort of hypnotic power over my two. The lanes to La Mare Wine Estate can be very narrow and windy and there will certainly be times when you think that the bus is not going to make it down that lane! I felt a bit like I was on the bus from Speed. Albeit a very slow dawdling bus that meandered around narrow lanes with no terrorists telling us not to drop below 70 mph. This was a more sedate 10 mph, but I was constantly holding my breath, muttering, “We aren’t going to make it”.
We soon found ourselves coming to an abrupt stop. Keanu Reeves, aka our bus driver, informed us that we were stuck behind a broken down bus. This then saw us having to reverse backwards down the very narrow and twisty turny lanes as we found a new route to take. We were soon going down a green lane. A green lane is not meant for buses, therefore it was really narrow! Keanu then tried to turn the corner but there was no way we were going to get the bus round there. After several failed attempts and me now crying “We aren’t going to make it”. Keanu gave up and carried along the lane before he found somewhere he could reverse into and get us back onto the road we needed to be on.
When we finally made it Keanu received a huge round of applause from us all! We were now at La Mare Wine Estate and feeling in need of some wine to get over the excitement of the bus ride.
Entrance Fees to La Mare Wine Estate
Adult – £9.95
Concession – £9.25
Child 10-17 – £4.50
Child under ten – FREE!
With both our children being under 10 the entrance fee was very reasonable for what we were about to receive!
What is included in the entrance fees to La Mare Wine Estate?
Included in the price is entrance to the grounds, gardens, playground and the tour and wine tasting, and a treasure trail for the children. Really good value for money!
As we had an hour to wait for the next tour we decided to go and explore the gardens.
The gardens are gorgeous and the children enjoyed running around them and chasing the butterflies. We might have enjoyed sitting down on the benches and enjoying the peace and quiet. There are, what I would describe as, some more formal gardens and also you can find a herb gardens.
Next to the gardens you will find the well-stocked stop. Here you will find a great range of products. Everything from the La Mare Wine through to their chocolate and Jersey Black Butter. There was also some Jersey Lavender gifts too. A great place to visit if you want to pick something up for a loved one.
Next we decided to visit the cafe and to get the girls a snack. Be careful the juice can be expensive. However, everything else is fairly reasonable. The girls had a cookie each and that was priced at £1.50. Later we had lunch here and it was really good value for money. For £4 the children had a sandwich that came with a good range of fruit and a drink. They are also given a cloth bag and a packet of felt-tips. The idea is that they colour in the picture on the bag while they wait for the food to arrive. It was a really nice touch and kept the girls entertained. They also loved their sandwiches. For the adults you can get a sandwich for £5 that comes with crisps and salad. I had the cheese and Jersey Black Butter and it was delicious.
There is a good park that our two enjoyed playing on. It’s not the biggest but it is well designed and kept the girls happy.
Next we had the wine tour. I was worried that the girls might find the tour a bit boring. I was wrong, they found it fascinating as did we. Firstly, we were shown the vines where we learnt about the grape types and the process of growing the grapes and picking them. Then we headed indoors to the distillery room. Here we saw how the cider and gin is made.
Then we headed next door and learnt how the wine is made. They make red, white and rose wine on the estate. The red wine is kept in a smoked oak barrel that they import from France. The inside of the barrel is burnt and this is what helps give the red wine a slight oaky and spicy taste.
Next we headed to learn how the sparkling wine is made. It is made with the champagne technique but obviously can’t be called champagne as we aren’t in the champagne region. Part of this process involves all of the bottles being stored upside down on a contraption which turns the bottle slowly. However, if you accidentally knock the contraption then you will probably cause all of the corks to fly off the bottle. I was paranoid that Youngest was going to knock one of them! I was very relieved when we left this room. Our next stop was the chocolate room and we saw chocolate and fudge being made.Yum!
The Wine Tasting
We were then shown into the marquee where our wine tasting would be taking place. The girls were given juice which they happily quaffed. We learnt a bit more about the La Mare Wine Estate. It was originally owned by the de Gruchy family. This is a well-known name on the Jersey island and one of our department stores is the de Gruchy store. Originally the farm was passed down the generations of the de Gruchy family but then the family became interested in retail and the farm was abandoned until it was bought by a man from Newcastle who decided to turn the farm into vineyards instead and that’s how we now have La Mare Wine Estate.
First up we tasted the white wine. I would like to say that I impressed everyone with my cultured palate. I didn’t. It tasted fresh and was lovely and light but I couldn’t tell you much more. The rose wine was a pleasant surprise. I’m not normally a fan of rose wine as they can be very sweet. This one wasn’t. It was a lovely delicate wine. Then we had the red wine which was very smooth and I could just about detect some of the earthiness from the oak barrels. Don’t worry we weren’t given loads of wine. However, I was feeling just a little squiffy. As we left the marquee we were given Apple brandy cream in a chocolate cup (the girls were just given the chocolate cup!) The brandy was rather delicious.
Exploring The Vineyards
We all really enjoyed the wine tour and our guide was brilliant. We still had some time before our next bus so we decided to go and explore the vineyards. The girls looked for clues so they could complete their treasure trail. We went walking through vineyards, orchards and met the resident ponies. We could even see Sark island at one point. Once the girls had completed their treasure trail we headed back to the shop for their prize. It was a chocolate lolly made in store. The girls tell me that it was YUMMY. I don’t know as I wasn’t even allowed the smallest of tastes. Pffft.
Is La Mare Wine Estate A Good Family Day Out?
You wouldn’t think that the La Mare Wine Estates would make for a good family day out but it really does. Plenty for the whole family to do and a very reasonable priced family day out.