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Cooper goes exploring... Harrow & Hope

Something a little different but totally awesome – we are not just coffee geeks!

As a lover of art and good quality wine this day was just speaking volumes.

It was a ‘Tastebuds and Fingertips’ day at Harrow & Hope run by Tash, founder of the Big Canvas Project.

Cooper and I popped along to be photographer while having a little go. We just can't not get involved!

This was our first visit here and we were not disappointed. The day was sunny which helped, a shame it was so windy but at least it was dry. The views, as you can see are beautiful. This vineyard is tucked away in plain sight! It overlooks Marlow and is producing some stunning bubbles and this is how the day went…

We arrived and set up our gazebo to help Tash out. This was overlooking the vines and Marlow with the main vineyard building behind us.

The group was introduced to the day, what would be happening and shown a demo. Being outside it was a great opportunity to explore action art. Very much a Jackson Pollock style painting session which is much more about exploring paint marks and colour. Throwing paint, trying to make different marks without restraints of formal mark-making with paint brushes. Even a paint ‘bomb’ was used. So much was had and the fun on faces was evident as people got into it.

It started with black and white hightlight different marks, before going onto small canvases (large really would have blown away on this windy day) and exploring these marks with colour palettes.

A lunch break gave everyone a little time to collect thoughts, enjoy a thoroughly delicious al fresco lunch of charcuterie, bread and cheese, oven blushed tomates/peppers, prawns, vine leaf wrapped rice and more, finishing with strawberries and cream plus a wine tasting.

We all got to sample the sparkling wines. They are exceptional quality – it’s amazing they are produced so locally! Full of flavour, bright and fruity yet complex with a beautiful gentle bubble. I believe you would have to buy a high quality champagne to rival this. It hands down beats most bubbles and personally. I like the much sought after prosecco for a toast or as welcome drinks but personally it tends to be a bit fruity and sweet and not being a true lover of prosecco I would choose a deccent champagne if I had the choice and this totally rivals most. Sadly I didn’t quite get to try the blancs de blancs but positive I will love it being a fan of high quality chardonnay.

The Brut Reserve NV: “Our NV wine is a blend of all three varieties, dominated by the soft red fruit of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This second instalment is based on the wonderful 2013 vintage. As future blends are released we will use an increasing amount of our reserve wines to maintain a consistent style that really shows off the special nature of this single vineyard.”

The 2014 Vintage Brut Rose: “The next instalment of our Brut Rosé comes from the truly wonderful 2014 vintage, the warmest on record. Ripe fruit was not hard to come by that year and we picked in beautiful warm sunshine throughout harvest. It has a lot in common with our 2013 release, but with extra red fruit character. It was also such a wonderful year for Chardonnay and have added 30% to this years blend for the finesse and balance we are looking for. Once again 30% was fermented in aged oak barrels for extra complexity. A really charming wine that lovers of our previous release will adore.”

2013 Blanc de Blancs: "Our inaugural 2013 vintage Blanc de Blancs is made exclusively from our lowest yielding Chardonnay vines in plot 76. With the chalk only 30cm below the surface these vines have to work very hard to produce a small amount of intensely flavoured Chardonnay grapes. We then fermented 50% of this wine in seasoned oak barrels to add extra layers of complexity to the already rich and creamy texture. This is a wine that will live long into the future and give pleasure at all stages of development."

A tour was then done talking and explaining through the process. It’s a beautiful place with a great story. Fascinating how grapes are grown and processed. Definitely recommend trying to book a place on a tour one day for something a little different to do. Henry and Kaye Laithwaite are fantastic people, great hearts and passion for wine and this H&H business. It completely shows in the product which speaks for itself.

We all then went back to the painting area in order to make the next steps. A fresh canvas and playing with more colours, textures and mark-making. It was very much a demo of how to, but then real chance to play and experiment. And the results were fantastic. Something that can easily be put up in your home to add a splash of colour and excitement to your room.

The whole experience was a fantastic chance to do something different and creative with freedom both mentally and physically. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook (both Coopers and The Big Canvas Project) for more days and courses.

For more information on The Big Canvas Project and any upcoming events keep an eye on the Facebook Page by CLICKING HERE or heading to the Website:

Likewise, for more information on Harrow & Hope visit their website:

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