Brits may be better known for drinking wine than producing it, but did you know there are more than 700 individual vineyards in the British Isles? The British climate has improved in recent decades and new grape varieties have sprung up, so it has become easier to produce the delicious tipple.
If you’re looking to sip on some native flavours of wine while you’re in the UK, head straight to the source: these British wineries are excellent spots to indulge in – and, of course, learn about – the best wine regions around the country.
1Three Choirs Vineyards – Gloucestershire
Three Choirs Vineyards (c) three-choirs-vineyards.co.uk
Visit the Three Choirs Vineyards and hear tales from one of the oldest winemakers who played a key role in the establishment of the English wine movement in the 1970s. This Gloucestershire vineyard has it all: a grape-to-glass experience, a tour of the vineyard and a fine dining journey that leads you to their brasserie where they offer an exclusive tasting of their award-winning collection such as Noble Harvest and the signature Classic Cuvee n/v.
The strong influence of berries in their blend can be traced back to the fact that Three Choirs started as a fruit farm, and didn’t start producing wine until the year 1976. The brasserie and luxury lodges, however, are newer -book these in advance for tours, tasting sessions and stays.
Address: Baldwins Farm, Newent GL18 1LS, United Kingdom
2Chapel Down Winery – Kent
Chapel Down Winery (c) chapeldown.com
If you’re planning a trip to Kent, make a detour to the borough of Ashford, in particular to the Chapel Down Winery near the town of Tenterden. The wine scene here is a combination of the traditional crafting method with the finest English-grown fruits such as apricots and peaches, along with aromatic gins and vodka, some exciting flavours that will add to your experience here.
Open for tours and visitors throughout the year, you can now also enjoy a pre-visit virtual tour of the vineyard. When in Chapel Down, explore the reason why Bacchus grapes make for the best English Sauvignon Blanc, and if you fall in love with the charismatic vistas here – which is bound to be the case – you can lease space in the vineyard for an intimate experience.
Address: Vineyard, Chapel Down, Small Hythe Rd, Tenterden TN30 7NG, United Kingdom
3Ridgeview – South Downs
Enjoying the sunshine, sparkling wine and other local produce at Ridgeview Garden Launch Party (c) Julia Claxton
It’s not just English ales that are getting rediscovered but English wine is as well. While you’re in the South Downs, stop by this small, family-run winery in the village of Ditchling that boasts a “minimal intervention” crafting process from handpicked berries that makes for a perfect blend of their award-winning wine.
Unlike other vineyards in England, Ridgeview focuses on the production of premium quality sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Enjoy a tour of the vast yards, observe their trademark style of wine-making, and stay for their extravagant Chef Dinner events that bring together the best of food and wine this countryside gem has to offer.
Address: Ditchling Common, Fragbarrow Lane BN6 8TP, United Kingdom
4Rathfinny Estate – Sussex
Rathfinny Estate (c) rathfinnyestate.com
If the Mark and Sarah Driver’s RIBA-nominated winery isn’t reason enough to visit the Rathfinny Estate, go for the Vintage Sussex Sparkling that is fermented in-bottle. A traditional method of wine-making inspired by the conventional style of Champagne production in France, take a tour of their establishment to uncover their five key steps and a handful of close-kept secrets for the perfect cuvée.
Join for a “Portfolio tastings” to quaff their expertly-crafted line of Sussex wines, and if you are looking for cases to take home with you, it must include a bottle or two of Rathfinny Blanc de Noirs 2016 – a signature blend aged for 36-months for the richest expression of their heritage.
Address: Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5TU
5Camel Valley – Cornwall
Camel Valley (c) camelvalley.com
A beautiful countryside vineyard in the heart of Cornwall, Camel Valley is a family-run estate that has crafted varieties of still and sparkling wine in Bodmin since 1989. Situated on the perfect, sun-kissed banks of Camel River, the tasting terrace offers a majestic view of the central Cornish countryside. Take a self-guided trek along the coastline, or book a guided tour through the vineyards, and sip on some world-class blends that have been nominated for countless national and international awards.
Address: Camel Valley, Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5LG
6Oxney Organic Estate – Kent
Oxney Organic Estate (c) oxneyestate.com
The world-class winery in Kent’s southeastern highlands, where Oxney organic wines are made, is set among 35 acres of orchards which produced 20 per cent of all organic grapes in the UK. Tours and tasting sessions are just £20 during which you can take in the aesthetic village setting, complete with views of undulating verdant Great Dixter and the surrounding grasslands.
Stays are also available for travellers in the vineyard or at the Oxney Barns in Stone Cum Ebony, though, be sure to book in advance.
Address: Oxney Organic Estate, Hobbs Lane, Beckley, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6TU
7Hush Heath Estate
Hush Heath Estate (c) hushheath.com
In easy reach of the popular towns of Maidstone and Canterbury, Hush Heath Estate is one of the most respected wine producers in England and has been producing wine since 2002. Their proud signature wine – the Balfour Brut Rosé – is an award-winning blend that is a sommelier favourite, and was also the official English wine served at the London 2012 Olympics.
With a huge range to try, you can taste your way through Leslie’s Reserve Brut, a traditionally crafted sparkling wine, Balfour’s Saignée, and Liberty’s Bacchus, among others.
Address: Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 0HT