With summer temperatures increasing each year, English winemaking is on the rise. Exploring the delights on our doorstep is now the order of the day. We have rounded up the top five vineyards across the country that are well worth a visit. Some even offer a spot to stay over so that wine connoisseurs can put their feet up, relax and sip on some of England’s best tipples.
Nyetimber, West Chiltington, West Sussex
Nyetimber uses only the finest estate-grown fruit, uncompromising attention to detail and decades of expertise to craft their award-winning wines. The luxury brand also has a price tag to match. Nestled in West Sussex, Nyetimber’s vineyards share similar characteristics with some of the best sparkling wine vineyards across Europe. Critics have remarked that Nyetimber wines could be big competitors of the large Champagne houses in the coming years. From greensand and chalk soils to the perfect climate where the gentle slopes allow for the best possible exposure to English sunshine, the estate allows the slow ripening of grapes for optimum levels of acidity and finesse. Discerning wine tasters can exclusively tour the award-winning estate and sample the flagship cuvée at certain times of the year.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, Polegate, East Sussex
Just three miles from the coast, Rathfinny Wine Estate is situated in the centre of the picturesque South Downs. While savouring the salty sea air, guests can enjoy a tour and guided tasting with an insight into how the estate turns grapes into award-winning sparkling wine. Strolling through the vines, an experienced guide will uncover the history and wildlife of the estate and guests can stop off at the chic Tasting Room to indulge in a delicate seasonal menu served with views over the vineyard. Guests can complete their wine trip with a stay at the cosy Flint Barns. The historic buildings are located at the western end of the estate, featuring snug fireplaces, an enclosed courtyard and spacious suites perfect for a staycation filled with walks, wine and Sunday roasts.
Tinwood Estate, West Sussex, Chichester
Established in 2007 by Art Tucker, Tinwood Estate’s vineyards are snuggled at the foot of the South Downs National Park. Since the first seed was planted, Tinwood has quickly established a reputation for producing some of the very finest English sparkling wine including the Estate Brut, the Blanc de Blancs and quality rosé. Just a ten-minute taxi drive from Chichester train station, the spot is the perfect weekend escape for cooped up Londoners, with regular trains from the southern city to the capital. Guests to the vineyard can imagine they are in the Loire Valley with countless similarities in scenery. Not only can guests discover the grape growing process, they’ll have a chance to taste the exquisite range of wine from the tasting room overlooking the vines below. Those wanting to make a night of it can stay in the luxurious lodges offering a tranquil oasis among the vines.
Camel Valley, Bodmin, Cornwall
Each summer the Lindo couple would watch the grass turn brown across the sun-drenched slopes of the Camel Valley and finally in 1989, they decided to plant their first vines. Camel Valley vineyard has since produced award-winning wines for locals from the Waitrose Drinks Producer of the Year Award in 2002 to the International Wine Challenge Gold Medal awarded in 2005. Their tours are laid back and friendly, recognising that wine has only just recently been properly cultivated in the UK. A winemaker guides guests through the vineyard, uncovering the winery process along the way. Visitors can also enjoy a five-wine tasting session, starting with Camel Valley’s most famous wine, Cornwall Brut. For a true Cornish experience, guests can stay in one of the holiday cottages. Originally characterful old-fashioned barns, the cottages have been converted with contemporary furnishings allowing incredible views of the vineyard and valley down below.
Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey
Burrowed in the heart of Surrey, the award-winning Denbies vineyard was first planted back in 1896 and has since grown to become one of the largest wine producers in the country. With 265 acres under vine and seven miles of footpaths woven throughout the estate, the family-run business offers wine enthusiasts an insight into wine production in England. Producing some of the finest sparkling and table wines throughout Europe, Denbies has been awarded multiple gold awards, including the first ever gold for an English rosé wine, and an international gold for their oaky harvest dessert wine. Visitors can soak up the surrounding views of the rolling Surrey Hills whilst savouring the tastes of the latest harvest. From the first bud bursting in spring, to the opulent vines during autumn, the changing scenery on the estate does not disappoint throughout the year.