Take advantage of the booming English wine scene this summer, with a visit to one of these beautiful estates
A sun-dappled vineyard is the kind of romantic fantasy we associate with the rolling hills in Tuscany, or the resplendent contours of the Côte d’Azur.
But believe it or not, there are actually over 400 artisan wineries to visit right here in the UK.
What’s more, the English wine scene has blossomed over the past decade. With greater quality and variety to choose from than ever before – especially when it comes to sparkling wine – there’s never been a better time to pop by and sample some of the good stuff.
In honour of English Wine Week, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite vineyards within cork-popping distance of London. Santé!
Coates & Seely, Hampshire
The folks at Coates & Seely apply French wine-making techniques within the quiet wooded hills of the North Hampshire Downs. The high-altitude air and chalk soil here means conditions are ripe for crisp, sweet fruit – and the award-winning sparkling wine that they produce. We’re particular fans of the salmon pink Rosé NV. Call ahead to visit.
Nestled in a valley in the South Downs National Park, Ridgeview offers guided tours and complimentary tastings to whoever fancies popping by. The family-run estate is also home to one of England’s only bespoke underground sparkling wine cellars. Their signature Bloomsbury blend is a fizzy golden delight, with notes of peach and honey.
Woodchester Valley, Gloucestershire
This boutique winery in the South Cotswolds conjures up a Laurie Lee-style charm, with acres of bucolic fields and horizon-stretching views. Get in contact to book a tasting tour and if you don’t feel like barrelling home after, you can always crash at the vineyard barn guest rooms instead. Award-winning vino includes the Bacchus 2017, which comes with a lovely elderflower aroma.
Nyetimber, West Sussex
Nyetimber is something of a pioneer on the English wine scene, and its medieval estate has been producing award-winning plonk since 1988. For the first time this year, you’ll be able to visit some of the country’s oldest Chardonnay vines that sprawl across its majestic South Down grounds. Guests will be able to sample the Classic Cuvee Multi-Vintage and other hallmark varieties on a series of summer open weekends.
Chapel Down, Kent
The excellent Chapel Down winery sits within 22 acres of vines in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent; the feted garden of England. Tutored tastings and complimentary vineyard walks are all part of the fun on this stunning estate. Wash down the crisp green apple and pear tones of the Flint Dry 2018 with some seriously good grub at the on-site Swan Restaurant.
The family-run Denbies estate overlooking Box Hill in Surrey has been churning out lip-smackingly good wine since the early 1980s. Seven miles of public footpaths meander through the vineyards here, but if you’re feeling lazy, you can always hitch a ride on the winery’s dedicated train service. Evening tours are a nice touch in the summer, providing a great excuse to knock back the well-regarded Rose Hill rosé with hints of raspberry and cranberry.
Elegant sparkling wine is the name of the game at this majestic Appledore estate, dating back to the 1400s. The growers favour minimal intervention in producing wine from their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines. Guests can drop in anytime to wander the Gusbourne slopes, and a discovery upgrade allows you to try rare releases, older vintages and limited editions, complete with food pairings.
Camel Valley, Cornwall
Granted, this one is a little further from London but its celebrated wines – including the best-selling Pinot Noir Rosé Brut with delicate hints of strawberry – means it’s more than worth the schlep. Make a weekend of it by taking the Riviera Sleeper to Bodmin Parkway, and head on over to the hazy slopes leading down to a private stretch of the River Camel. A glass of wine on the terrace here is not to be missed, and the vineyard’s barn conversion cottages come with breathtaking views.
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