Best vineyards in the UK to visit this summer
It may surprise some to know that there are over 500 UK vineyards dotted throughout England and Wales, producing local wines that have impressed even the most seasoned sommeliers. Make the most of the warmer weather and take the opportunity to explore local spots by visiting one of the country’s independent wineries, where you can sample their most tempting bottles while taking in dramatic countryside views. Here, discover our favourite UK vineyards that are worth a visit across the country.
Rathfinny Vineyard, Sussex
Another family-owned UK vineyard, Rathfinny Wine Estate is best known for producing some of the world’s finest sparkling wines. The RIBA-nominated winery uses a traditional method typically used in France to make Champagne to produce its sparkling bottles, where the wine is fermented in the bottle, giving it a rich, pure taste. The team offer tours throughout the year, which of course finish with an extensive wine tasting. The estate also boasts an impressive restaurant with modern British cuisine and a dining room with heartier, more traditional fare. The stylishly restored ten-bedroom Flint Barn B&B also provides a cosy place to stay in the heart of the South Downs.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5TU; rathfinnyestate.com
Oastbrook Estate Vineyard, Sussex
Formerly owned by the Guinness brewing dynasty, who used the estate for farming hops, you might be surprised to find an oast house at this delightfully quirky vineyard. Now run by husband-and-wife duo Nick and America Brewer, their daughter Gabby and their friendly golden retriever Laura, you’re always guaranteed a personal welcome here. Make sure you book for a full weekend when you visit, for as well as excellent tours of the vineyard they also have a swimming pool – around which they host opera evenings during the summer – and a range of unique accommodation options, ranging from the Scandi-style Avalon Waterside Lodge, which overlooks the Oastbrook pond, to their Tolkein-inspired Hobbit House.
Oastbrook Estate Vineyard, Junction Road, Bodiam, Robertsbridge TN32 5XA
Tillingham, East Sussex
Set amongst 70 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, the Tillingham estate boasts impressive views across the Tillingham River valley, the historic town of Rye, the sea and beyond. As well as a vineyard, the estate is home to a 13th-century farm, which today uses the latest scientific methods and ancient traditions to employ a highly sustainable approach to its farming. Founder and winemaker Ben Walgate is working toward the goal of making the farm self-sufficient, and all the wines are organic and low intervention, using centuries old methods. There’s an outdoor kitchen restaurant where dishes showcase the very best ingredients sourced from the farm, and visitors can also sample the wines at the wine bar. And if you don’t fancy making the drive home post-tasting, there’s also an 11-bedroom farmhouse hotel on the estate that guests can book into.
Tillingham, Dew Farm, Dew Lane, Peasmarsh, East Sussex TN31 6XD; tillingham.com
Bolney Wine Estate, West Sussex
One of England’s oldest vineyards, the Bolney Wine Estate is a historic and picturesque winery. Still a family business – now in its second generation – the Estate produces award-winning still and sparkling wines, including their popular Pinot Noir and Bolney Bubbly. Visitors can join a variety of tours, which come with different tasting packages – our pick is the Ultimate Wine and Dine experience, with a two-course seasonal mezze-style meal paired with five of the Estate’s award-winning wines. The property’s Eighteen Acre Cafe also offers al fresco dining on the vineyard balcony, where guests can enjoy small plates with a glass of the Estate’s wine.
Foxhole Lane, Bolney, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17 5NB; bolneywineestate.com
Giffords Hall Vineyard, Suffolk
Set on the site of a medieval abbey near the storybook-pretty villages of Lavenham and Long Melford, Gifford Hall Vineyard is a grand winery producing a range of sparkling and dry aromatic wines with a floral character. The estate offers both private tours for groups of eight or more and grand group tours once a month during the summer – this year’s dates can be found on their website. As well as bringing visitors through the vineyard and walking them through the process, tours also take attendees to a tasting room where they can sample three wines, with the option to add on a cheese platter, liqueurs and canapés. If you’re looking for somewhere to rest your head, the vineyard has a partnership with local National Trust house Ickworth, where you can stay in the smartly restored gamekeeper’s lodge.
Giffords Hall Vineyard, Hartest, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP29 4EX; giffordshall.co.uk
Terlingham Vineyard, Kent
This family-run vineyard in the Kentish countryside was transformed by owners Graham and Lorna Wilks to focus on natural wines in 2015. The South African duo have employed a team that adopts a hands-on approach to managing the four acres of vineyard, taking advantage of the chalky soil that matches that of France’s Champagne region. A charming B&B is attached to the vineyard for overnight stays, and the family run two-hour tours that wind through the estate before finishing off with a wine tasting and paired cheese board. The owners have also set up retreats to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings, with wellness escapes that offer guided meditations, sound baths and relaxing walks.
Terlingham Manor Farm, Terlingham Lane, Hawkinge, Folkestone CT18 7AE; terlinghamvineyard.co.uk
Balfour Hush Heath, Kent
Set in 400 acres of the rolling Kent countryside, the Balfour Hush Heath makes full use of its surroundings. As well as producing award-winning wines, including the flagship sparkling Balfour Brut Rosé, the estate offers visitors the opportunity to explore the grounds with self-guided walks through the vineyard, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands. They also offer guided tours of the winery and tastings for a variety of experience levels – there are even masterclasses for those who want to really test their noses. For a luxurious outing, sign up for the Wine and Dine experience, where you’ll get a dedicated tour guide, private tasting and three-course seasonal lunch. There may not be anywhere to stay on-site but the owners also have eight smart pubs and hotels, the most charming (and closest) of which is the Tickled Trout.
Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 0HT; hushheath.com
Hambledon Vineyard, Hampshire
Billed as England’s oldest commercial vineyard, this Hampshire gem has plenty of history. Founded in 1952 by Major-General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones, the vineyard started out with just a few grape varieties – almost half a decade later, Ian Kellett took it over and turned it into a 200-acre vineyard and state-of-the-art winery. You can learn all about their heritage during one of the vineyard tours, or simply book in for lunch or dinner at their pop-up restaurant, where you’ll be served top-rate English fizz alongside the finest seasonal cuisine.
Hambledon Vineyard, East Street, Hambledon, Waterlooville PO7 4RY
Langham Wine Estate, Dorset
This Dorset winery is famed for producing sparkling wines with a low intervention approach from its vineyard that surrounds the Grade I-listed Melcombe manor house, which has barely changed since the reign of Edward VI. Today the vineyard offers both guided and self-guided tours, where expert team members will take guests on a two-hour walk through the estate and winery and explain the process behind the winemaking. There’s an on-site cafe in a barn with an al fresco dining area, offering lunch, tea and pizzas from the wood fired oven, and throughout the summer they also run their popular ‘Fizz Fridays’ once a week, where you’ll be served a delicious dinner (seafood one week, tapas the next) accompanied by live music from a local musician.
Crawthorne Farm, Crawthorne, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 7NG; langhamwine.co.uk
One of the best-known labels to come out of UK vineyards, this 150-acre estate makes the most of Kent’s warm microclimate to produce its critically acclaimed vintage sparkling wines, with its famed citrusy Blanc de Blancs now known all over the world. There’s a variety of tours on offer at this picturesque spot, which is surrounded by ancient oak forests, with the Estate Tour ending with an extended tasting of Gusbourne wines and a three-course lunch – a firm favourite with Londoners looking for idyllic day trips.
Gusbourne Estate, Kenardington Road, Appledore, Ashford TN26 2BE
Adgestone Vineyard, Isle of Wight
This secluded ten-acre UK vineyard boasts dramatic sea views along with award-winning bottles. As well as producing a tempting selection of English wines — including the UK’s only blue sparkling wine — the team also collects and ferments seasonal fruits and flowers to create countryside liquors and preserves. Make a real holiday out of your visit and book a stay at one of the estate’s glamorously converted shepherd’s huts or cottages, and enjoy a self-guided tour through the vineyard with an accompanying audio guide. Guests can add on wine tasting sessions, and if it’s a family trip, the kids can take part in their own treasure hunt through the vines.
Upper Road, Brading, Sandown, Isle of Wight PO36 0ES; adgestonevineyard.co.uk
Castlewood Vineyard, Devon
On a south-facing hillside in Devon, overlooking the River Axe, the Castlewood Vineyard produces a tempting selection of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, as well as more experimental varietals for NV Sparkling Wines. First opened in 2006, the vineyard underwent expansion ten years later and since then has been producing Artefact, Magnum Rose and Brut Nature, too. Private tours and wine tastings with cheese are available for groups of six or more, and the Castlewood owners have teamed up with nearby restaurants Glebe House and River Cottage to offer wine and dine experiences. Every June they hold a mini festival to celebrate the release of the latest vintage, with live music and an Ethicurean feast, and if you fancy turning your visit into a longer stay there are two traditional Grade II-listed cottages available to rent, each offering gorgeous views.
Castlewood Vineyard, Castlewood Farm, Musbury, Axminster, Devon EX13 8SS; castlewoodvineyard.co.uk
Camel Valley, Cornwall
Established by ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie in 1989, the Camel Valley vineyard has produced award-winning wines for decades and is now run by the next generation of the family. The vineyard makes full use of the sunny fields — Cornwall often gets the warmest weather during UK heatwaves — and produces a variety of white, rosé and sparkling wines. The team offer idyllic tours through the vines, but visitors can also opt to relax on the terrace and enjoy wine by the glass or a five-bottle tasting session. The family also owns two stone cottages that you can rent, boasting magnificent panoramic views across the valley and the Camel River.
Camel Valley, Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5LG; camelvalley.com
Trevibban Mill Vineyard, Cornwall
This contemporary and stylish vineyard and winery, nestled next to the charming fishing village of Padstow on the North Cornish coast, is famed for its collection of Cornish wines and cider. Grand walking tours through the estate are offered every Sunday, and there are also guided tours through the vineyard that focus specifically on the winemaking process. The estate also offers wine tasting, where guests are offered a sampling of seven different bottles with an expert on hand to help you understand the different blends. Tastings are paired with a selection of snacks, putting a Mediterranean spin on local produce.
Trevibban Mill, Padstow, Cornwall PL27 7SE; trevibbanmill.com
Ryedale Vineyard, Yorkshire
This more intimate, family-run UK vineyard has been producing wine since 2006 and is currently the most northerly commercial vineyard in all of Britain. The family produces red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, and also owns an extensive orchard, whose fruit they use to make cider and apple juice. Tours are informal and friendly – often carried out by one of the two winemakers themselves – with a wine tasting offered at the end alongside a selection of local cheeses. For overnight stays, the winery has two beautifully designed, rustic rooms – the Fox and the Pheasant – in the 500-year-old farmhouse, which features an honesty bar with bottles of the vineyard’s own wine.
Ryedale Vineyards, Farfield Farm, Westow, York YO60 7LS; ryedalevineyard.com
White Castle Vineyard, Wales
Situated near the market towns of Abergavenny and Monmouth, this Welsh vineyard is run by couple Robb and Nicola Merchant. The winery produces excellent Pinot Noir, Regent, Rondo, Seyval Blanc and Phoenix grapes, and a tour of the vines is always led by one half of the duo. After a guided walk through the vineyard and the surrounding lush countryside, visitors are treated to a tasting on the terrace, from where you can take in the dramatic views. Platters of local cheeses, charcuterie and seafood can also be ordered to enjoy with your wine ahead of time.
Llanvetherine, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 8RA; whitecastlevineyard.com
Astley Vineyard, Worcestershire
Another one of the oldest UK vineyards, this winery is tucked away in the lush Severn Valley in Worcestershire, and has passed between families to keep the business personal. Today, the vineyard mainly produces white wines, as well as a sparkling wine using their 49-year-old Kerner grape. The owners run intimate two-hour tours with a maximum group size of 12 to ensure you can get dedicated attention and have all your winemaking questions answered. As well as a mid-tour glass of wine at the estate’s pavilion overlooking the vineyard, guests are also treated to a sit down guided-tasting of three of the award winning wines at the end of the tour.
Astley Vineyard, Hampstall Lane, Stourport on Severn, Worcestershire DY13 0RU; astleyvineyard.co.uk