Looking for wine tasting breaks in the UK? If you are dreaming of a stress-free holiday on your doorstep this summer, vineyard escapes might be a good solution. According to the Michelin Guide, twenty years ago it was unthinkable that the U.K. would be producing over 3 million bottles of wine a year from over 450 wineries. Now it’s a serious and well-respected industry with over 25% more land under vine in 2019 alone providing excellent tourism packages, too.
Vineyards can be found across the whole of England, but the terroir of the South and Southeast makes the region particularly suited to growing vines, especially the counties of Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent where you can drink excellent wines (the most popular varieties include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and experience an unforgettable staycation.
For the joy of those of you, midlife bloomers seeking new adventures, we’ve picked out five of the best vineyard hotel experiences in the UK where you can put your feet up with a glass of wine in hand overlooking wonderful vines.
A family-owned Wine Estate, established in 2010 by Mark and Sarah Driver, it’s dedicated to producing some of the world’s finest sparkling wines. Located on a wonderful south-facing slope in England’s South Downs, the climate, chalk soil and aspect make it the perfect site not only for producing Sussex Sparkling wine but also for experiencing a great stay. The barns have been lovingly restored with contemporary furnishings to house 10 en-suite bedrooms, offering beautifully appointed “home away from home” (think cosy fireplaces, stone walls, colourful throws and wooden floors) accommodation overlooking the estate. Not to mention the great Michelin Plate restaurant serving a menu of modern British cuisine. The estate is four miles (10 minutes by taxi) from Seaford station on the line east from Brighton.
Doubles from £110 a night (b&b).
Nestled deep in the Cotswolds, with its vines draped across 75 acres of south-facing slopes Three Choirs claims to be one of England’s oldest vineyards (it’s been going since the 1970s). If you are looking for plenty to do for all the family, this is an ideal day out. The vineyard tours are combined with a nature trail, complete with ladybird and hedgehog nesting boxes, fish-filled ponds, owls, badgers, rabbits and more. There’s a brasserie on-site for post-tasting refreshment and a great choice of accommodation, from log cabins to idyllic rooms overlooking the vineyards.
Doubles from £153 a night (b&b).
Situated near Dorking, Denbies is the UK’s biggest vineyard with over 250 acres of planted land. The chalky soil has been considered to be perfect for growing grapes since Roman times. Tours of the winery by toy-train showing off panoramic views of the North Downs and tasting sessions are provided. There are also two fine dining restaurants including ‘The Gallery’, which offers some of the best countryside views in the region. 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 (b&b).
Tinwood Estate, West Sussex
The Tinwood Estate’s vineyards are situated in the heart of West Sussex at the foot of the South Downs National Park. Since the first planting in 2007, Tinwood has quickly established a reputation for producing the very finest English sparkling wines. It’s open all year to visitors and offers packages and gift experiences with tutored tastings. You can stay in one of their luxury lodges (all with a private decked terrace) overviewing the vines or alternatively, pick up a treat from the terrific wine and fine food shop.
Doubles from £175 (b&b).
Home of great organic wines, it’s located in one of South East England’s most scenic spots, at the heart of the wonderful High Weald, Here, there are several ways to get a taste for Oxney: you can either buy their wines from their shop, 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 or stay in their picturesque spacious converted barns, Vineyard House or their cosy shepherd’s huts. The Vineyard House in particular is a true gem to stay. Dating back to Jacobean times and has a plethora of beams, fun features and not exactly horizontal floors. Over the years it has been extended and has had bigger windows installed and a large kitchen stretching the length of the property at the back. The charming house has been refurbished and its interior is in a modern Nordic style. A relaxing, comfortable space to holiday with a group of friends or family.
Self-catering huts from £250 for two nights (or £500 a week) for 2 people.