Discover 10 of the best Christmas food and drink gifts from producers and businesses based in Hampshire. Includes something for all tastes and budgets.
When you’re stuck for what to buy someone for Christmas, you can’t go far wrong with food and drink – unless you have a habit of panic buying those mass-produced gift sets from the “seasonal aisle” in the supermarket…
Buying your Christmas gifts from small and independent businesses also makes for a nice day out in the lead up to Chrimbo, whether you’re popping into a farm shop before a winter walk or visiting one of the county’s many Christmas markets and fairs.
And if you don’t want to brave the crowds and the December chill or you live further afield, many Hampshire producers also offer their stock online.
But with so many food and drink producers and businesses based in Hants, where do you start if you want to buy your Christmas gifts from a local business?
10 of the best food gifts for Christmas 2017 from Hants
Here are 10 of the best food gift ideas for Christmas from some of Hampshire’s finest food and drink producers and businesses.
From chocolate to charcuterie and gin to jam, there’s something here to suit most budgets and tastes.
Read on to see what to buy and where to buy it.
1. Meon Valley Cider three-bottle gift pack
When it comes to cider making, most of us automatically think of Somerset or Herefordshire. But Hampshire has its fair share of producers harvesting, grinding, pressing and fermenting apples into cider too.
One of these is Meon Valley Cider. Set up by Nigel and Charlotte Johnson in 2015, Meon Valley produces a variety of still and sparkling ciders using apples from Hill Farm in Swanmore as well as varieties from Sussex and the West Country.
The Meon Valley Cider three-bottle gift pack showcases Nigel and Charlotte’s core ciders – “Chalk Stream” (medium), “Brown Trout” (medium dry) and “Dragonfly” (dry).
And while the bottle artwork depicting scenes from the River Meon will transport whoever receives this gift back to the summer months, they’ll love pairing these ciders with festive foodstuff like ham, pigs in blankets and stilton and cheddar cheese.
Where to buy: Meon Valley Cider is on sale at various farm shops and off licences including the Leckford Estate Farm Shop in Stockbridge, Meonstoke Village Stores, West Meon Village Shop, Fareham Wine Cellar and Southwick Village Stores. Online you can pick it up from Farmer’s Choice and Fareham Wine Cellar.
2. Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve sparkling wine
From Fordingbridge in the west to Selbourne in the east, Lymington in the south to Tadley in the north, there are now more than 35 vineyards in Hampshire.
In recent years, the reputation of the county’s wines has increased dramatically. Hampshire’s sparkling wines are particularly fine, due to its chalky soil coupled with its mild climate.
Established less than 10 years ago, Hattingley Valley is one of Hampshire’s most successful sparkling wine producers. This is despite only planting its first vines in 2008 and fermenting its first wine in 2010.
Hattingley Valley has two vineyards over 60 acres, north of Alresford. It has won many awards for its wine in the UK and internationally, including Silver for its non-vintage “Classic Reserve” at the 2017 Independent English Wine Awards.
Its vintage “Classic Reserve” (12%) sparkling wine, which uses a blend of Chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and a splash of pinot gris, is now on sale after spending almost two years ageing.
Other wines available now include dessert wine “Entice” (8.5%) and a 2014 sparkling Rosé (12.5%).
All Hattingley Valley’s wines come in a stylish presentation carton for easy wrapping.
Where to buy: You can buy wines via the Hattingley Valley website or from The Naked Grape in Alresford and Four Marks, Caviste in Overton and Odiham, Wine Utopia in Winchester and Stockbridge and Rosebourne in Andover. Hattingley Valley wines are also available at selected Majestic and Waitrose stores.
3. Parsonage Farm Christmas salami gift board
One of the major advantages of buying meat locally is that you can be more confident that the animals enjoyed a good life.
This is especially true when you buy from Parsonage Farm, a family-run business located in the North Wessex Downs near Andover.
Parsonage Farm specialises in salami and dried meat produced from its own livestock. Its salamis use local ingredients – such as Alresford Watercress and Upham ale – to add a British twist to what is usually considered a continental creation. Flavour combinations include red wine and garlic and beer and thyme as well as classics like chorizo and merguez (a traditional north African sausage).
The farm’s salami gift boards make a great present for anyone who loves snacking on dried meat or using it to cook with. Each pack includes three or five salamis with the option to add extra snacking meats, all presented on an oak board.
Parsonage Farm also has larger gift boxes and crates for sale this Christmas.
Where to buy: You can buy direct from the Parsonage Farm website as well as Abbots Ann village shop and Weyhill Farm Shop near Andover. Parsonage Farm also has stalls at Winchester Wine Festival on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 November, the Ginchester Christmas Market in Winchester on Saturday 2 December and Farnham Christmas Market on Sunday 10 December.
4. Cocktail Week wristbands
With medieval Winchester often referred to as the gin capital of the UK, there are few better places to drink cocktails than Winchester Cocktail Week, which is back for the third time from 5-11 February 2018.
During the week, many of the city’s bars, cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops are showcasing signature cocktails. Attendees can get these for just £4 each with a Cocktail Week wristband.
Winchester Cocktail Week also offers a variety of cocktail-themed events parties and masterclasses throughout the city including the grow-some-curtains end-of-week finale, a Brit Pop party at the city’s Victorian Guildhall.
This year, Winchester Cocktail Week is joined for the first time by its sister event, Southampton Cocktail Week, which runs from 16-22 July 2018. These are two of many food and drink events throughout the year organised by the Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards’ 2017 “Food Heroes”, Cabinet Rooms.
Where to buy: You can buy tickets for Winchester Cocktail Week and Southampton Cocktail Week online or from the Cabinet Rooms cafe-bar in Winchester. Ticket holders can then exchange tickets for their wristbands when they arrive.
5. Yarty cordials and vinegars
Founded by Jayne and David Mugridge in east Devon’s Yarty Valley but now based in Southsea, Yarty produces artisan cordials, vinegars and meat rubs inspired by Jayne’s great grandmother’s recipes.
With flavours such as blackberry and vanilla, elderflower, lime and chilli, rhubarb and ginger and mango and lime, Yarty uses only fresh fruit and natural ingredients in its cordials. You can enjoy them with soda water or use them as a base for cocktails.
The flavours of its vinegars and meat rubs are just as adventurous – how about black garlic vinegar drizzled on roasted veg or lamb with spiced blackberry vinegar?
All Yarty’s cordials, vinegars and meat rubs come in a stunning bottle or jar. So they look great as a gift and on show in the kitchen.
Where to buy: Yarty sells its cordials, vinegars and meat rubs on its website and at various food and drink events around the UK. You can also buy them online through Farmer’s Choice and The Great British Website and in person at Stanstead Park Farm Shop near Rowland’s Castle, Rosebourne in Andover, Setley Ridge Farm Shop near Brockenhurst, Sunnyfields Fram Shop near Totton and Berry Bros. and Rudd in London.
6. Fallen Acorn Brewing Co six-bottle gift pack
Although brewing in the UK has experienced a renaissance in the UK in the last few years, it’s still fairly difficult to find craft beer and real ale from independent breweries in your average shop or supermarket.
Fallen Acorn Brewing Co in Gosport has a small tap room where you can sample its beers and buy some to take away. The brewery rose from the beer-soaked ashes of Oakleaf Brewery, which started brewing in 2000 – a good few years before the recent boom in new UK microbreweries.
Fallen Acorn brews a mix of the old Oakleaf classics like its golden ale “Hole Hearted” and new experimental brews to suit real ale fans and craft beer newcomers.
The brewery’s Christmas six-bottle gift pack showcases one of its new Christmas brews – “Egg Nog Stout” (5.3%) – along with black American pale ale “Black Hearted” (4.7%), coffee porter “Pot Kettle” that uses beans from Solent Coffee Roasters (4.4%), “Expedition” IPA (5.5%), copper ale “Twisted Oak” (4%) and the classic “Hole Hearted” (4.7%).
Where to buy: Head to Fallen Acorn’s tap room to pick up the gift pack as well as bottles and fresh beer to take away. It’s open on Wednesday and Friday evenings and at other times by prior arrangement.
7. Anvil coffee and coffee subscriptions
As with wine and beer, a great aspect about coffee is the variety available. Blended or single origin, Colombian or Costa Rican, there are thousands of types and combinations out there – that’s before you take into account how it’s roasted.
I made the jump from freeze-dried to ground coffee beans years ago. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how much better speciality coffee from small coffee roasters is compared to mass-produced supermarket coffee beans and grounds. And it’s not just the quality that’s better – you’ll also get to drink it fresh, sometimes days after roasting.
Anvil is one of a handful of small-batch coffee roasters based in Hampshire. It sells a variety of freshly roasted blended and single origin beans.
If you know someone into their coffee, Anvil’s freshly roasted beans or a coffee subscription make great Christmas presents, especially if they haven’t yet discovered the joys of buying from an artisan roaster.
Where to buy: Get Anvil coffee and subscriptions direct from the Anvil website. Use the code TH17 before 31 January 2018 to get 10% off your order.
8. Farmer’s Choice preserves
Delivering produce “from Dirt to Doorstep” since 1984, Farmer’s Choice is an online butcher and virtual farmers’ market based in Fareham.
As well as free-range meat and fresh fish, it also sells fruit and veg, juices, craft ales and ciders, wines, spirits, deli meats and snacks including food and drink from many of the Hampshire producers mentioned in this guide such as Hattingley Valley, Meon Valley Cider and Yarty Cordials.
Farmer’s Choice has its own-label range of pickles, jellies, jams, curds, chutneys and marmalades too, all hand-made in a cottage kitchen in the village of Rockbourne near Fordingbridge.
Choose from creations like “Mutineer’s Marmalade” (which includes rum), strawberry and Pimm’s conserve and a ploughman’s chutney.
Where to buy: Order on the Farmer’s Choice website, where there are also gift vouchers available.
9 and 10. Pothecary Gin and Chocolate by Miss Witt luxury gin and chocolate gift pack
Miss Witt is pastry chef turned award-winning chocolatier, Kerry. She’s based in Sway in the New Forest.
Her conceptions include flavours such as the modern classic, sea salt and caramel, as well as more unusual combinations like blackcurrant with star anise and prune with Armagnac.
She uses local spring water rather than cream or butter to make the ganache for her chocs. Some of her recipes – like her brittle and choc drop bags – make classy stocking fillers.
Pothecary Gin was created by drinks industry veterans Martin Jennings and Lukasz Dwornik. They’re based close to Kerry just over the Hampshire/Dorset border in Christchurch.
Martin and Lukasz produce their aromatic gin by distilling the botanicals (lavender, lemon peel, tilia flowers, juniper and mulberries) separately by hand, then expertly blending them.
Kerry, Martin and Lukasz have joined forces to devise a luxury gin and chocolate gift pack. It features a bottle of Pothecary gin with four of Kerry’s amazing chocolates. These are infused with the gin’s lemon and lavender distillates and the mulberry extracts taken from the copper after distillation.
Although Pothecary Gin makes a fine G&T, this gin and chocolate pairing works best with the gin neat or poured over ice.
Where to buy: You can buy the gin and chocolate gift box from the Solent Cellar in Lymington, the Christchurch Confectioner in Christchurch, Bonafide Wines in Christchurch and Haywood Wines in Southbourne. Bottles of Pothecary Gin are available from the Solent Cellar, Bonafide Wines and Haywood Wines as well as various online stores like Master of Malt and Amazon. You can buy Chocolate by Miss Witt direct, and at Christchurch Confectioner and Coffee Mongers in Lymington.
Need more inspiration?
If you’re still stuck for food and drinks ideas, check out the Hampshire Fare Local Produce Guide or head to a Hampshire Farmers’ Market where you’ll find stalls from a variety of Hampshire-based producers.
Over to you
Are you hoping to get local food and drink for Christmas? Which of these food and drink gift ideas is your favourite? What other local food and drink producers do you recommend?