It’s been a while since wine in the UK shed its terrible rep and started gaining respect. Certain Champagne houses – ahem, Taittinger – have even bought land on England’s south coast to create their own vineyards this side of the Channel. So with UK wine on the up, what better way to sample a cool glass of the country’s finest than by visiting a vineyard? In celebration of English Wine Week, Nicola Trup gives five of the best UK vineyard stays to do just that, where you can stay overnight and make the most of those tastings.
1. Oxney Estate, East Sussex
Planted between 2012 and 2014, Oxney’s 21 acres of vines are dedicated to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Seyval blanc grapes, which go into its organic tipples. Between March and October you can take a tour around the vineyard and winery with owner Kristin Syltevik or winemaker Ben Smith, ending with a guided tasting back at the cellar door. After that, bed down in one of the holiday huts or converted barns, which sleep between two and six people. They’re about 15 minutes from the vineyard – just across the River Rother.
Self-catering huts from £250 for two nights (or £500 a week) for 2 people.
2. Three Choirs Vineyard, Gloucestershire
Three Choirs claims to be one of England’s oldest vineyards (it’s been going since the 1970s) and it runs guided tours and tastings every day, all year round – though there’s naturally more to see in summer. One of the big draws is the brasserie, where English produce is the star of the show, from Wye Valley asparagus to Cotswolds wild boar. And as well as wine, Three Choirs does its own real ales so be sure to pick up a bottle or two. Once you’re done for the night, check into one of the bedrooms or lodges, which have fabulous views of vine clad valleys.
Doubles from £153 a night. Bed and breakfast.
3. Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan
Just half an hour’s drive from Cardiff city centre, Llanerch was once a dairy farm, but now it’s all about the wines. Producing five of them, including a mix of sparkling and still whites and rosés, under its Cariad label. You can only find them here at the vineyard, so get the full experience with a guided tour (April-October) or a tasting. Then settle down for lunch at the restaurant. They also do an afternoon tea – with a sparkling wine option, obviously. Accommodation is in nine rooms spread across a converted farmhouse and separate annexe.
Doubles from £130 a night. Bed and breakfast.
4. Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey
England’s largest vineyard stretches over 265 acres, so it’s no surprise the tours aren’t on foot – they’re by toy-train. Chug along, stopping at the most scenic spots by the vines – while in October you can join in the harvest with a grape-picking experience that gets you behind the scenes. There are tastings too, of course, as well as two restaurants. The Gallery is the fancier one, with cracking views. As for the accommodation: the original farmhouse has been converted into a B&B, and you can enjoy your full English overlooking the vines.
Doubles from £110 a night. Bed and breakfast.
5. Polgoon Vineyard & Orchard, Cornwall
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A young, light and fruity red wine, how about chilled? How about trying something a little bit different? The light English red wines because of the higher acidity once chilled really brings out the fruits in the flavour and aroma, perfect for these beautifully warm summer days we’re having here in Cornwall. Pop into see us or order online to try a bottle of this unique style red wine 🍷
On the edge of Penzance, Polgoon not only produces still and sparkling wines, but ciders and juices too, using apples from its own orchard. From March until harvest time (September/October) they offer tours, where you can learn what goes into cultivating and processing the fruit, and of course sip a few samples. They’ve recently recruited local street-food chef Rupert Cooper to run the Vine House restaurant; expect plenty of Cornish fish and seafood on the menu. The on-site holiday cottage comes with its own garden and barbecue, so you can crack open a bottle and get grilling.
Self-catering cottage from £85 a night for 6 people.
In celebration of English Wine Week (25 May – 2 June) why not take your pick of our handpicked range of English wines at farmdrop.com.
This article was originally published in July 2018 and has since been updated.