Looking for wine tasting breaks in the UK? We have found the best English vineyards where you can stay over. Enjoy English wine tastings and vineyard tours before putting your feet up on a private terrace overlooking the vines.
Here are some of the best English vineyard breaks…
Tinwood Estate, West Sussex
Want to do a wine tasting in Sussex? Back in 1985, Dutchman Tukker bought 200 acres of land here to grow iceburg lettuce. Ten years ago, Tukker’s son, Art, took on the land for his own project – growing vines for English wines. Art and his wife Jody have worked, manicured and nourished the land and now 100,000 champagne variety vines flourish in their 65 acres of chalky, flint-topped soil. Book a vineyard tour with the optional extras of a cheese platter for two or a canapé selection.
What to eat: Slow-cooked medallions of pork tenderloin followed by crème brulee with shortbread at The Kennels, a members clubhouse that serves dinner to those staying at the Tinwood Estate.
What to drink: Blanc de Blancs sparkling Chardonnay.
Where to stay: Double lodges at the Tinwood Estate start from £175 per night for a double room with breakfast.
Read our full review of the Tinwood Estate Lodges and wine tasting in Sussex here
Hush Heath Estate and Winery, Kent
A great vineyard tour in Kent. Dedicated to making world-class sparkling rosé, Hush Heath centres around a Tudor-frame manor house with gorgeous gardens and acres of ancient orchards and woodland. Visit the winery shop to enjoy an self-guided exploration, or book for a full estate and winery guided tour for £25, or a private guided tour for £35 (six people minimum).
What to eat: An spring dish of asparagus, pea and mascarpone risotto at the estate’s own Goudhurst Inn. For an additional £30pp you can enjoy a 3-course lunch or dinner with wine at the Goudhurst Inn or the Tickled Trout.
What to drink: Balfour Brut Rosé 2010.
Where to stay: Stylish, airy doubles at the Goudhurst Inn start from £80.
Kingscote, West Sussex
This is one of the best wine tasting breaks in the UK. Not just a vineyard but a full-on countryside experience founded by the late Christen Monge, Kingscote promises walking and fishing, as well as vineyard tours and tastings. Book a gourmet vineyard tour with lunch for £85pp for two people.
What to eat: There’s a tiny coffee shop serving Kingscote’s own coffee in the on-site wine and artisan food store. For a full meal, visit nearby Gravetye Manor where a set 2-course lunch is £35.
What to drink: The Fat Fumé, a lightly oaked bacchus.
Where to stay: Doubles at Gravetye Manor start at £275.
Camel Valley Vineyard, Cornwall
Want to explore one of the best English vineyards? Bob Lindo turned his hand to farming when he left the RAF and has built up the beautiful Camel Valley vineyard gradually, over 30 years, with his wife Annie. All the wines are sold in the shop by the glass or half glass (along with little snacks), so you can turn up for a taste even if the Grand Tour tasting is fully booked.
What to eat: Pink fir apple potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and polmarkyn ashed goats cheese, or slow cooked lamb shoulder and cumin roasted cauliflower followed by lemon posset, raspberries and ginger crumb at St Tudy Inn, 15 minutes north by car.
What to drink: The 2012 Cornwall Pinot Noir Rosé Brut.
Where to stay: The Cabana, a pretty converted stable down a leafy lane, with a private decked area equipped with a BBQ. B&B from £60 per night. lowertregleath.com
Three Choirs, Gloucestershire
A lovely wine tasting break in the UK. You can taste, trek, eat and sleep at Three Choirs near Newent, one of the longest established English vineyards. Most visitors book ahead for a guided tour with tastings.
What to eat: Take a seat among lots of local regulars to eat smoked wood pigeon, Springfield Farm chicken and Clonakilty black pudding terrine with spiced pear followed by roast sea bream, buttered samphire, crushed Cornish new potatoes and lobster oil.
What to drink: The Siegerrebe 2012, a spicy, fruity dry white.
Where to stay: Eight bedrooms in a red-brick block, from £153, have pretty views over the vines, but the nicest accommodation is in the glass-walled, timber-framed lodges with verandas, from £175.
Read our full review of the Three Choirs here
Wyken Vineyards, Suffolk
Only big groups need pre-book for a wander round Wyken. It has been established as a vineyard since 1988, and is energetically tended by Mississippi-born Lady Carlisle, who, as a girl, trained at Chez Panisse and loves the ‘raciness of English wine’.
What to eat: The menu at the estate’s Leaping Hare restaurant/café/shop, housed in a 14th-century barn, offers monkfish with brown shrimp and cauliflower followed by Wyken lamb rack and belly with pomme anna, sprouting broccoli and wild garlic.
What to drink: Wyken Moonshine, a sparkling wine made with pinot noir and auxerrois grapes.
Where to stay: Camomile Cottage, an arty Suffolk longhouse where you’ll breakfast in the garden room on full English or eggs benedict with home-baked bread. Doubles, from £99.
Chapel Down, Kent
One of the best-known English vineyards, Chapel Down recently expanded its site to a huge 325 acres of prime Kentish wine country. It’s open all year to visitors, and offers packages and gift experiences with tutored tastings. Alternatively, just go and have a look and pick up a treat from the terrific wine and fine food shop.
What to eat: Pea velouté with ham hock croquettet then Romney Marsh lamb rump, confit cherry tomatoes and smoked paprika courgette puree at Chapel Down’s smart restaurant, the Swan.
What to drink: The 2014 Flint Dry, a blend of bacchus with chardonnay and cool-climate grapes, is a fine alternative to sauvignon blanc.
Where to stay: Sissinghurst Farmhouse, home to Chapel Down’s CEO, is also a charming B&B with brass beds and rural views, from £150.
Sharpham Wine and Cheese, Devon
One of the best vineyard tours in the UK, Sharpham is a great experience. In the same hands for 30 years, Sharpham is a serious producer of more than a dozen wines, as well as unpasteurised cheeses that are sold UK-wide. Visitors to the site, overlooking the River Dart, can embark on a self-directed Trek and Taste, or a Vineyard Ramble with expert guides.
What to eat: The Cellar Door serves River Fowey mussels with cider, bacon, leek and mustard cream followed by wild garlic and sorrel chicken “kiev” with watercress and charred lemon.
What to drink: The Estate Selection 2014.
Where to stay: The Bathing House is a well-appointed holiday cottage within the Sharpham Estate, sleeping two from around £530 for three nights. helpfulholidays.com
Ryedale Vineyards, North Yorkshire
There’s no visitor centre, shop or café at England’s most northerly commercial vineyard, rather a tiny winery set in a listed cowshed. Here Stuart Smith conducts tastings, once his wife Elizabeth has guided guests around the entirely unmechanised site. Tours and tastings take place between April and October, or, if you’re staying at the vineyard, you can book a private tour for any day of the week. ryedalevineyards.co.uk
What to eat: At Mount House B&B in Terrington, owner Kathryn might cook venison in the autumn, or seabass, followed by a creamy Italian pud. Book dinner in advance for £30 for 3-courses.
What to drink: One of Ryedale’s award-winners, such as a bottle of Yorkshire’s Lass, a delicate dry white.
Where to stay: In a pretty, homely double or twin at Mount House starting from £90 per night.
Check out the best places to eat in Ryedale while you’re there…
Rathfinny Estate, West Sussex
It may be young, but Rathfinny Estate in the South Downs is still one of Britain’s most beautiful wineries. Vines are separated by rows of wild flowers, there are glimpses of the Sussex heritage coast throughout, and visitors can stay overnight in a stylishly converted 1860s barn.
What to eat: Get social and eat in the estate’s Flint Barns canteen at long, communal wooden tables. Being the casual kind of place it is, the menu is fixed; expect family favourites such as quality sausage and mash.
What to drink: Although 180 acres in size, Rathfinny has not produced any Sussex sparkling yet – the first batch is due in 2017. Owners Mark and Sarah Driver hope it will rival some of the best champagne.
Where to stay: Rooms at the Flint Barns are simple but have expensive bathroom fixtures, quality bedsteads and access to a luxurious communal living room. From £100 for a double.
Words by Sophie Dening, Alex Crossley
Photo credits: Paul Winch-Furness, Ian Forsyth
First published August 2015