13 lovely local vineyards to visit
Sunshine, glorious countryside and home-grown tipples – now that’s what we call a Muddy outing! Taste and explore this English Wine Week (18 – 26 June) at these brilliant vineyards around Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.
Gusbourne, Ashford, Kent
Just an hour from London you’ll find this boutique English winery sitting in the stunning Kent countryside of Appledore. Pay them a visit, explore the vineyards and enjoy a tasting experience to discover why they are the most awarded English Sparkling producer. Tours are run in small groups and hosted by the friendly, knowledgeable staff. They can also take private bookings for tours of various group sizes, which makes the perfect gift. Throughout the year there are opportunities to attend unique events at the Nest, such as dinners prepared by some of the UK’s most talented chefs, lunches and tastings hosted by the winemaking team, Sunday lunches, and picnics in the vineyard.
Balfour Winery, Hush Heath, Staplehurst
Sitting on the Hush Heath Estate, this is one of England’s leading wine producers, pioneers for both English traditional method sparkling wines, and a new wave of English still wines. Set in 400 acres of spectacular Kent countryside, making over 400,000 bottles of still and sparkling wines each year, Balfour is one of England’s most respected and renowned wineries. Sitting pretty near Staplehurst, which itself sits – rather conveniently – on the trainline that connects the Kent coastline with London (it’s only 50 mins from London Bridge). With year-round tours and tastings on offer, guests can enjoy a self-guided stroll through beautiful vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands, or join an expert-led tour and tasting experience in their winery. With its own stylish dining space, The View, Balfour Winery is a place to enjoy great food whilst enjoying panoramic views of the stunning countryside.
Biddenden Vineyards, Biddenden, Kent
Kent’s original vineyard, Biddenden, has been owned and managed by the Barnes family since 1969. Today the vineyard is run by the second and third generations of the family, drawing on many years of experience in winemaking at Biddenden. You can take yourself on a self-guided tour, or for those wishing to learn a little more about Biddenden, you can book on a Private Guided tour which run May-September every Wednesday through to Saturday. Plus there’s the Vineyard Shop is opened throughout the year and fully stocked with their award-winning range of wines, ciders and juices as well as a decent selection of local and artisan food and drink.
Woolton Wine, Woolton Farm, Canterbury, Kent
This one’s a right rural hidden gem… visit Woolton Farm for its wonderful cider and award-winning wines, eat local produce while you sip and then stay in one of three holiday cottages or book a bell tent in The Barn Garden. There’s a shop, vineyard and cider garden to stroll around, or sit and drink in the sun. Plus there’s experiences on offer – with private tours and tastings. Then there’s the restaurant, The Barn, which serves up a South African menu.
Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey
Family owned and run since 1984, England’s largest wine estate is set on a very pretty 265 acres just outside Dorking. You could easily spend a day, or indeed a weekend here. As well as seven miles of footpaths, and 50-minute Vineyard Train Tour which takes in some of the most beautiful view points on the estate there are wine tastings, afternoon teas, indoor winery tours, plus a cinema experience which charts the Vineyard through the seasons. And if that’s not enough, there are three restaurants and a large visitors’ centre.
Wiston Estate, Washington, Sussex
Like your vineyard with a side of sophisticated dining? Look no further than the stunning Wiston Estate, in West Sussex that has been in the hands of the Goring family since 1743. In 2021 they opened the Insta-worthy Chalk restaurant on the site, which draws together the best local produce, including ingredients from the Estate and its neighbours. The chefs create dishes that express the nature and history of the land which can be enjoyed alongside their award-winning wines. They also hold events including themed dinners, tastings and wine tours plus offers walking routes around their gorgeous grounds.
Albourne Estate, Albourne, Sussex
They say good things come in small packages, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to boutique vineyard and winery Albourne Estate. With a relatively diddy 26 acres of vines, this family-run business keeps batches deliberately small to best pour all their love and attention into their sustainably produced wines and vermouth. Not content with all that they also offer pop-up supper clubs, visits from funky food trucks and even Bee Keeping experiences – buzzing!
Hattingley Valley, Lower Wield, Hampshire
Once the site of chicken sheds, Hattingley Valley is now home to one of the UK’s largest vineyards. Come picking season the whole team gets hands on with the delicate process, the hard work and humour creating palpable family-feel. And season after season, veteran head winemaker Emma Rice continues to create world-class, award-winning wine, like Hattingley Valley, Classic Reserve Brut NV, which just claimed Gold at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards. Tours involve a great behind-the-scenes look at the production process and a generous tasting session, so come thirsty (and with a designated driver).
Quob Park, Wickham, Hampshire
A relative newcomer to the thriving English wine scene in Hampshire, Quob Park Estate’s 20-acres of vineyards were planted in 2015. Grown on a 170-acre estate with some serious heritage (it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086), current owners the Terry family popped the cork on their first bottles in 2020. And they’re confident in the results: the upgraded tour option lets you compare Quob Park’s English Sparkling Wine with some top Champagnes and Prosecco. Now that’s what we call a contest.
The Grange, Alresford, Hampshire
It’s a family affair at The Grange, a stunning 33-acres of Hampshire downland five miles east of Winchester overlooking the River Itchen. Just over a decade ago, in 2011, Zam Baring and his siblings Mark, Rose and Lucy, all custodians of The Grange estate, decided to cultivate grapes for sparkling wine and planted Burge’s Field Vineyard. Initially importing expertise from the likes of Coates & Seely and Hattingley Valley, all eyes are now on The Grange’s in-house winemaker, Harry Pickering, appointed in early January 2021. Tour by day or enjoy an appealing summer sunset stroll around the vines, with canapes and a tasting of current vintages.
Hambledon Vineyard, Hambledon, Hampshire
Howzat! Established back in 1952, Hambledon is England’s oldest vineyard. Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones came back from France to his birth region and was inspired to plant the first vines in the village of Hambledon, a quintessentially English patch of Hampshire known as ‘the cradle of cricket’. Proud of the heritage and prized terroir, owner Ian Kellett and his French, biodynamic Champagne pioneering head winemaker Herve Jestin opted to create a state-of-the-art, fully gravity-fed winery – the only one in the UK – producing award-winning sparking drops with minimal intervention. À votre santé! Tour the vines and chalk cellars here, then finish with an all-important tasting of some pretty special sparklers.
Alder Ridge Vineyard, Hungerford, Berks
Alder Ridge is a beautiful boutique vineyard on the chalky hills of Hungerford. It’s been producing sparkling wine since 2013 after planting eight acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay grapes and classic Champagne vines. Want to sample the goods? Take a vineyard tour and learn about the highs and lows of wine making while tasting the three bottles of fizz they have produced. It’s part of Cobbs Farm, pop into the Farm Shop & Kitchen for cakes, light lunches and afternoon teas and a Play Barn to keep the kids from whining ‘I’m bored’. This summer you can also enjoy a pop up outdoor cinema and the English Wine and Food Festival on the 25-26 June.
Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Twyford, Berks
If you like a walk that comes with plenty of reward, then you’ll hit the jackpot at Stanlake Park Wine Estate. This is a Berkshire hidden gem – Stanlake Park Estate has had a long and colourful history dating back to the Tudor period but in recent times has made a name for itself as seriously good vineyard producing quality English wines. The tours will allow you to waft among the vines, taste the goods (warning: samples are generous… taxiiiiiii), plus there’s a well-stocked cellar shop, wine bar and garden where all the wines are available by the glass with no restaurant mark up. Hic! Basically it’s heaven.