Denbies is a pioneer of English wine, having been around since 1984. The family-run estate is one of the largest wine producers in the UK, drawing on a wide variety of grapes to make some fantastic reichensteiners, pinot noirs and chardonnays. Tasting tours run throughout the year and there are two restaurants where you can enjoy a ‘wine evening’ lead by a sommelier. Whatever you do, grab a glass of the crisp and citrusy Sparkling Bacchus 2019.
Tillingham, East Sussex
Close to the capital, Tillingham has 40,000 vines spread across its 70-acre estate. It’s an under-the-radar option, but you dedicate an entire weekend to touring the estate, tucking into its wood-fired pizzas and staying in one of 11 rooms in a converted barn. Bottles will set you back at least £30, but Tillingham’s unique harvesting process means you get bang for your buck with full-bodied profiles – the Pinot Noir Oaked 2020 is particularly punchy.
Hambledon Vineyard, Hampshire
Home to one of the most renowned English sparkling wines, Hambledon sits on a gently sloping hill in the South Downs. The oldest vineyard in the UK, it grows its grapes on a 200-acre estate using a gravity-fed machine that uses some pretty impressive technology. You’ll learn more about the art of wine making on a tour, before trying a few of the estate’s best bottles.
Chiltern Valley, Oxfordshire
This is one of the most impressive vineyards in the UK. Easily reached from London, the vineyard sits in the Chiltern hills near Henley-On-Thames, where the climate is ideal for grapes. Surrounded by woodland and picturesque Hambleden valley, the estate offers a two-hour behind-the-scenes tour on which you can try the brewery’s ales and liqueurs alongside the wines.
Camel Valley, Cornwall
Some of the best English wines comes from Devon and Cornwall. Camel Valley is a multi-award-winning vineyard in Bodmin. This family-run business supplies a range of high-street supermarkets, as well as Rick Stein’s restaurants. Book a guided group tour, stay in a cottage on the estate, or head to its terrace for a sparkling wine – one of the best being Annie’s Anniversary Brut.
Rathfinny Estate, East Sussex
Since 2010, Rathfinny has been producing wine from its vineyard near the charming old-world village of Alfriston in the South Downs. A south-facing slope, proximity to the sea plus fertile chalk soils mean the estate produces some of the finest English sparkling wine. October and November are two of the best months to visit because you can sample the complete portfolio. Book a guided tasting tour, have dinner at the courtyard restaurant, and even stay in a room on the estate.
Nutbourne Vineyards, West Sussex
Just outside the village of Pulborough (which has its own train station), Nutbourne is a small family-run vineyard. The winery has a selection of award-winning wines, including a riesling-style 2018 Sussex Reserve. Nutbourne’s unique ‘terroir’ (a warm climate and fertile soil) makes autumn a great time to see the team harvesting this season’s grapes. Book a guided tour or head on the free vineyard trail.
Ridgeview, East Sussex
In the South Downs, near the handsome village of Ditchling, Ridgeview started out with three clones of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Two decades later, there are seven sparkling varieties to choose from – Cavendish being one of the best. Book a guided tour led by one of the vineyard’s experts, followed by a sampling session in the tasting room, which looks out to the surrounding hills.
An hour from London, Gusbourne grows the classic chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. Internationally recognised for its sparkling Blanc de Blancs, the estate also delivers some outstanding still wines. Book a tasting to try the range or go big with the ‘Estate Tour’ which includes a three-course lunch at its slick restaurant.
Close to Cardiff, Llanerch is renowned for its Cariad wine, which is unique to the area. The vineyard produces different varieties year-round, though autumn is the best time to visit. On site, there’s a farmhouse for overnight stays, as well as a bar and two dining areas for breakfast and drinks. Visitors can book onto group tours for up to 20 people, or set up a private tour led by one of vineyard experts. We recommend the crisp Cariad Dry White.
Greyfriars Vineyard, Surrey
Greyfriars Vineyard is open all year for tasting tours and experiences. On a south-facing chalk slope just outside Guildford, the first vines were planted in 1989 and now produce quality English sparklers. Greyfriars also has an impressive wine cellar where you can try some of its seasonal produce for free during growing season. We can’t get enough of the 2019 Still Pinot Gris, which comes in at a reasonable £13.50 per bottle.
Rodington Vineyard, Shropshire
This small family-run vineyard is in central Shropshire. After several years of planning, planting and nurturing the vines, its first harvest was 2013. Today, Rodington Vineyard offers daily wine tasting experiences covering tours of the vineyard and a full selection of its wines, accompanied by cheese, meat, bread and nibbles.
Oxney Estate, East Sussex
Oxney Estate is home to one of the most famous organic vineyards in the country. Close to the lovely Sussex town of Rye, it takes a natural approach to winemaking, harvesting its grapes in small batches on a 20-acre estate. The Pinot Noir Rosé ranks as one of our favourites, but there are many grapes to explore, including pinot meunier, chardonnay and seyval blanc. Stay as a couple in one of the on-site shepherd’s huts, or larger groups can take over a trio of converted barns.
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