When scouring the wine aisle we’re automated to bypass English grapes and instead we robotically pick up a bottle of something French instead. Traditionally English wines have been unfairly looked down upon, but the rise of English winemaking over the decade this year culminates with the ultimate summer of the staycation, so what could be better than exploring the best of English wine at one of the UK’s many vineyards?
If, like us, you’re partial to a glass of fizz or rosé come the weekend, uncover traditional and modern methods of wine making through tours and tastings. Here are nine of our favourites…
Planning a party or a picnic? First stop: Nyetimber. Why? Because they’ve cracked the secret of consistently producing high quality fizz, using exclusively English grapes.
Discover the glorious history of the English wine producer when you visit their vineyard in West Sussex. Book in for one of their open days and enjoy a two hour tour by one of the Nyetimber team’s brand ambassadors, who will guide you through the vines, as well as stopping off to take a photo or two at the rolling South Downs surrounding you.
Finish your tour by stopping off and purchasing a few bottles of your own to try, all at a special cellar door price.
Location: Gay Street, West Chiltington, West Sussex, RH20 2HH
Head on out for a weekend break at Lympstone Manor, home to one of our favourite country house hotels, and enjoy European cuisine thanks to star chef Michael Caines, and take in the sea views and rolling vineyard.
The hotel planted 17,500 vines back in the summer of 2018 to create delicate sparkling wines for guests of the hotel to enjoy while they were staying. The vineyard dream was brought to life by a guest who visited the manor and spotted the potential, and the vines are expected to yield their first significant harvest next year, though it’ll take another two years for the first release of Lympstone Manor Cuvee.
But if you’re a lover of sweeping hills, cosy hotels and stunning food, settle in for a night here and explore the vines on their journey.
Location: Courtlands Lane, Exmouth, Devon EX8 3NZ
Rathfinny Estate, East Sussex
Set in the South Downs, Rathfinny Estate is home to 600 acres of sun-soaked vines and sweeping landscapes just off the Sussex coastline.
The estate has reopened for business post COVID-19 and is welcoming wine lovers back with new summery picnic hampers and its Michelin Plate Tasting Room which is open for takeaway, both of which are perfect for anyone after an alfresco style dining experience in the heart of the countryside.
Whether you’re greeted with the glorious British weather or it’s a dreary day, explore the vineyard on one of their exclusive estate tours, and uncover how your favourite tipple is nurtured and created into the crisp fresh white or sparkling wine.
Rathfinny Estate is home to 600 acres of sun-soaked vines and sweeping landscapes just off the Sussex coastline.
Location: White Way, Polegate, BN26 5TU
Set just outside the market town of Tenterden, Chapel Down vineyard is known for its smooth blends and botanical infused gins. Discover more about your favourite glass of white as you’re guided on a two hour tour before tasting the award-winning range of sparkling and still wines in one of their tastings.
If you’re feeling peckish after your journey through the vines, stop off at The Swan for a light lunch and another glass of the tempting bubbles.
Location: Chapel Down Tenterden Vineyard Park, Small Hythe Road, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 7NG
Escape the city and venture to Langham Wine Estate in Dorset. The vineyard itself is south-facing and set on chalk soils making it a great spot for producing Champagne varieties, including chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
Join the expert team on one of their guided tours around the grounds and learn the ins and outs of traditional sparkling wine production. Since covid, the two hour tours have been reduced in size, making them even more perfect for an intimate family day out or when you’re on a reunion staycation with your wine loving friends. If you’d rather explore the vine fields yourself, they also offer self-guided tours and tastings.
Ridgeview’s history stretches back to 1995 when Mike and Chris Roberts made their dream of creating a world renowned English sparkling wine come to life. Fast-forward to the present day and you can explore its history in its entirety when you take a tour at their Ditchling vineyard in East Sussex.
Slotted alongside the picturesque village of Ditchling, you’ll be guided on a tour by one of their winery experts and you’ll learn the ins and outs of Ridgeview’s sparkling wines. Or book in for one of their tastings to try their selection out for yourself and learn what pairs well with each blend.
Tours and tastings are currently closed but you can drop by for drop-in sales and pre-booked tastings.
You guys know we’re mad for Hattingley Valley’s range of wines but we fell in love when we journeyed out to Hampshire to their glorious vineyard.
Family-owned, Hattingley Valley is slotted into the heart of Hampshire and specialises in sparkling wine. Settle in for a vineyard tour across 25 acres, before heading back to the winery to uncover the traditional processes used in production. In August and September the grapes are harvested, so it’s the perfect time to explore and taste some of the yield.
From swine to vine… Family-owned Bluebell Vineyard transformed the former pig farm into a beautiful vineyard stretching over 100 acres.
Drive on out of the city and to Uckfield and book in for a tour and tasting session where you’ll sample some of their best yields. Or make a day of it and try one of their food and wine tastings. The grapes are all harvested, fermented and packaged on site too.
Location: Glenmore Farm, Slider’s Lane, Furners Green, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3RU
Giffords Hall Vineyard, Suffolk
Just a couple of hours drive out of the big smoke and you’ll find yourself surrounded by flat, sweeping fields and green landscapes. Slotted in the heart of Suffolk, just outside the market town of Bury St Edmunds, Giffords Hall Vineyard is a family owned vineyard that’s been producing grapes for over 25 years.
They’ve recently reopened and are welcoming guests to explore their glorious vines and sample some of their finest blends.