The English wine industry is still in its infancy compared to more established wine-making countries such as France, Italy and Spain, however, our nation still produces plenty of wines to get excited about.
You may not have previously thought of England as a producer of quality wine – Brits are far better known for drinking wine than making it (we rank fifth in the global chart of wine consumption by country).
However, in recent years, English wine is earning some well-deserved recognition, so whether you are a fine wine aficionado or are simply looking for a homegrown winery to support, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best English vineyards to visit where you can indulge in some top-notch wine-tasting tipples!
Balfour Hush Heath Estate and Winery, Kent
With over four hundred acres of vineyard to explore, Balfour Hush Heath Estate and Winery also boasts beautiful apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands, making it an idyllic location for a wine-tasting tour.
Originally arable land, the vineyard was placed firmly on the map when it was awarded a gold medal for its Balfour Brut Rose at the 2007 International Wine Challenge. Since then, the winery has welcomed wine-lovers through its doors to take a tour and sample their sparkling and still wines.
We recommend the vineyard’s Winter Wine Experience (available November to March) where guests will be immersed in the history of the Estate as their Head Winemaker talks them through the wine-making process, before a guided tour of the winery where guests will be shown the secrets behind the production of the Balfour award-winning wines.
Gifford’s Hall Vineyard, Bury St Edmunds
The family-run Gifford’s Hall Vineyard is a quarter of a century old and boasts an impressive variety of vines that include Bacchus, Rondo, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The wine produced is a mixture of sparkling wines, rose and hearty reds – all aged in French oak barrels. Gifford’s Hall wines have won many accolades including the Waitrose Award for Most Outstanding Rose.
The owners welcome visitors to the vineyard for wine-tasting tours, either in a private group of eight people, or for a Grand Tour which includes informative talks on the grape varieties grown, and a tasting session of three wines and a bonus of three liqueurs. Families are welcome to take the tour (wine tasting is only available for those over eighteen years old) and you can even bring your dog as well. Dogs must be kept on leads, as the vineyard is also home to chicks and lambs.
Sharpham Wine and Cheese, Devon
There are few better pairings than wine and cheese, and a tour of Sharpham Wine and Cheese allows you to indulge in the best of both! Situated on the bank of the River Dart in South Devon the family-owned estate has been producing award-winning wines and cheese for almost four decades.
The vineyard produces sparkling, red, rose, and white wines – including their flagship Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve – a fruity wine produced using Madeleine Angevine grapes for a soft peach and sweet apricot flavour.
Visitors can choose from two tours, one of which is a guided tasting tour with four wines and two kinds of cheese to sample, where experts will share the stories of the different grape varieties and techniques used to produce each wine.
If you’d prefer a more informal tasting session, the self-guided tour allows visitors to choose four wines and three cheeses to sample from a daily selection. Tasting notes will be provided and guests can enjoy the wine at their leisure.
Greyfriars Vineyard, Surrey
Greyfriars Vineyard has a focus on producing elegant English Sparkling Wine. With a brand-new winery and state of the art winemaking equipment, the wines are aged in a natural chalk underground cellar for total perfection.
The vines grown on the 50-acre site are predominantly the ones associated with Champagne – Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay – as well as smaller plots of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.
Tours at Greyfriars Vineyard are relaxed and laid back, featuring a walk through the vineyards followed by a tasting session led by a Greyfriars wine expert to talk guests through a selection of sparkling and still wines. As a souvenir, each visitor will take home a Greyfriars wine glass.
Self-guided tours are also available, and guests will receive a map before setting off on their vineyard adventure, which ends at The Cellar Door Wine Shop where they can explore and purchase a choice of excellent wines.
Three Choirs, Gloucestershire
Situated within the beautiful rural hills and valleys of The Cotswolds, the Three Choirs is one of the oldest vineyards in the UK. The vines are grown on seventy-five acres of south-facing slopes capturing the best of the Gloucestershire sunshine, to produce some outstanding still and sparkling wines.
Wine-tasting is available, with a mammoth flight of fifteen Three Choirs wines to enjoy, along with palette cleansing crackers and tasting notes to guide guests. After sampling the wines, visitors can roam the grounds along a Vineyard Trail and enjoy the spectacular views over the Gloucestershire countryside.
At weekends, there is also the option to add a lunchtime grazing session to the package, with a sharing platter of tapas designed to complement their wines.
Raise a glass to the best English vineyards
With a growing number of stunning vineyards dedicated to making award-winning wine scattered across the county, there are plenty of choices for wine lovers to raise a glass to.
If you feel uncertain about the quality of English wine, rest assured that it has come a long way in the last decade and many of the vineyards we’ve featured have produced wines that have been awarded numerous accolades.
Still, need convincing? Book a tasting tour with one of the best vineyards in the UK and discover your new favourite home-grown wine for yourself.