Discover English wine at some of the UK's best vineyards

Britain is home to an incredible selection of thriving vineyards that produce deliciously tempting wines. From the greenery of Kent and Dorset to the rolling hills of Yorkshire, a visit to one of the wineries can add some sparkle to the summer in more ways than one.

English Wine Week, running from 25 May to 2 June, promotes the nation’s wine industry and will see many vineyards opening their doors to welcome visitors with tours, tastings and special offers. English Wine Tasting and Tours also operate from central London to wineries in Kent and Sussex, meaning English wine remains incredibly accessible.

With award-winning wine offerings in a number of counties, it’s time to explore Britain’s vineyards and raise a glass to a blossoming industry.

Langham, Dorset

Occupying 30 acres at Crawthorne Farm, the Langham Wine Estate takes a ‘low-intervention’ approach to its growing process in a bid to limit its environmental impact. What results is a mix of terroir-driven sparkling wines from hand-picked grapes that are processed on site. Visitors can be talked through the entire process during a two-hour guided tour and tasting. Alternatively, they can embark on a self-guided tour, before treating themselves to lunch or afternoon tea in the Vineyard Café, set in a former 19th-century milking parlour.

Rodington, Shropshire

Hidden away in the heart of picturesque Shropshire is Rodington Vineyard, a family-run 10-acre site that offers an abundance of fine wines. Their Blue Tractor Wines are internationally recognised for their quality and visitors can arrange tastings and a visit to the vineyard during its opening hours – 10am to 4pm daily (closed Wednesdays) – to find out more.

Giffords Hall, Suffolk

Renowned for its array of sparkling wine, rosés and reds, Giffords Hall in Hartest, Suffolk is set on the clay soils of a former glacial riverbed. Taking advantage of its geographic location, it produces quality grapes that are high in both natural sugars and acids – a fantastic combination for both sparkling and dry aromatic wines. Visitors can take part in private or group tours and dogs are also welcome, although they must be kept on a lead to protect the vineyard’s collection of free-roaming lambs and chicks. Grand Tours of the vineyard also take place on selected dates throughout the summer, featuring a guided tour and tasting session with 3 wines and 3 liquors.

When? Grand Tours at 11am on 6 May, 27 May, 22 June, 13 July and 26 August.

Three Choirs, Gloucestershire

With a unique microclimate that is perfectly suited to grape growing, the Three Choirs vineyard and brasserie is found amid the scenic beauty of the Cotswolds. Having first been planted in 1973, the 75-acre site near Newent is among England’s oldest vineyards and is best explored via a guided tour. Visitors can also stay among the vines in one of the luxury vineyard lodges, which offer verandas on two sides for soaking up the sun and the scenery. The Brasserie has a menu packed with country classics and plates that are designed around the seasons using fresh ingredients from the region. Booking in advance for tours and tastings is a necessity.

Camel Valley, Cornwall

Nestled in the spectacular Cornish countryside in Bodmin is Camel Valley, developed by husband and wife pair Bob and Annie Lindo. They’ve been making wine at the site for two decades and possess a Royal Warrant for their sparkling wine from the Prince of Wales. All of the wines produced at Camel Valley are sold in the onsite shop too, meaning visitors can sample the flavours even when Grand Tour tastings are fully booked. Sit back and relax on the terrace or follow the Camel Trail through the farm to the picturesque sandy beaches of Padstow. The Grand Tour details the entire process of winemaking and is accompanied by a taster session when visitors can try the highly acclaimed Cornwall Brut.

When? Grand Tours take place at 5pm on Wednesday evenings between April and October, with additional tours at the same time on Thursdays throughout August. Guided Tours also take place at 2.30pm, Monday to Friday, between April and September.

Chapel Down, Kent

Using locally sourced fruit and mirroring the Traditional Method that is used to create Champagne, Chapel Down vineyard is notorious for its still and sparkling wines. Now covering hundreds of acres of prime Kentish countryside, the vineyard is open all year round to visitors, with gift experiences, tutored tasting sessions and guided tours all available. Chapel Down supplies iconic British institutions including The Royal Opera House and No. 10 Downing Street, while its wines are also popular with leading chefs Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver. Visitors can also enjoy modern British cuisine in the Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant The Swan, with its spectacular outdoor terrace that overlooks the vineyard.

When? Guided tours run throughout the year, and booking in advance is recommended.

Greyfriars, Surrey

Occupying close to 50 acres of the Surrey North Downs, Greyfriars is another vineyard that mixes traditional methods with modern wine making technology to create a delightful array of English sparkling wines. Reflecting the unique soil conditions and climate of the region, the wines have won numerous international accolades for owners Mike and Hilary Wagstaff. Tours and tastings run on most weekends, while Greyfriars also hosts open days with free entry on selected days throughout the year.

When? Open days on Saturday 8 June and Saturday 14 September 2019. Booking in advance for tours and tastings is recommended.

Hush Heath Estate and Winery, Kent

Hidden away amid scenic Kentish countryside, the Hush Heath Estate and Winery is home to the award-winning Balfour Brut Rose. Alongside the winery is a picturesque Tudor-framed manor house, glorious gardens and acres of ancient orchards and woodlands. Visitors can embark on a self-guided tour at their own pace after picking up a map from the Cellar Door, taking in the spectacular scenery and wildlife on the way before finishing up with a complimentary sample of wine, cider or beer in the tasting room. There’s an option to add more tastings for an additional fee. Tutored tasting tours, full estate tours and private group tours are also available, but must be booked in advance.

When? Tours take place all year round when the winery is open.

Kingscote, West Sussex

Developed to be a wine tasting break, Kingscote in West Sussex offers not only vineyard tours and tastings, but an all-encompassing countryside experience. The 150-acre estate is also home to Tithe Barn, a spectacular venue used for weddings and corporate events. Visitors can fish at two picturesque lakes known as Leggett Lakes or join one of the public footpaths that meander their way through the estate to discover other attractions in the 2,000-acre Kingscote Valley. Guided tours of the site take in the vines, winery, Tithe Barn and the shop and feature a tutored tasting of 2 of the vineyard’s award-winning wines. Vineyard tours with lunch or afternoon tea are also available, as well as a Gourmet Vineyard Tour option.

When? The vineyard shop is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm. Tours run from the start of April to the end of September and must be booked in advance.

Wyken Vineyards, Suffolk

With its country lanes, tall hedgerows and patchwork fields, the 1,200-acre farm of Wyken is characteristically Suffolk. The 7-acre winery, first established in 1988, produces several award-winning wines that are sold via the shop and the on-site Leaping Hare restaurant. Housed in a 400-year-old barn, the Bib Gourmand awarded restaurant serves a delightful mix of British and European dishes, while Wyken Farmer’s Market runs adjacent to the restaurant on Saturdays, selling an array of local goods, delicious food, alcohol, plants and sculpture. Visitors are encouraged to walk to the vineyard through the grounds of the estate. Alongside the Elizabethan manor house Wyken Hall there is a set of formal gardens that can also be explored.

When? The restaurant is open daily between 12pm and 3pm for lunch, and from 7pm on Friday and Saturday for dinner. The café is open from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Friday, and from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays. The Farmer’s Market runs from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. The Gardens are open daily from 2pm to 6pm but are closed on Saturdays.

Sharpen Wine and Cheese, Devon

Producing more than a dozen wines, many of which have won awards internationally, as well as unpasteurised cheeses, Sharpham offers an array of exciting tours and tastings opportunities. Visitors can explore the site overlooking the River Dart as part of a self-directed vineyard walk, or can take part in a Vine to Wine Tour that takes in the vineyard and the winery with expert guidance. The Cellar Door Kitchen, an on-site alfresco kitchen café, is open throughout the season and features local ingredients and those picked from the estate itself.

When? Vine to Wine tours run from April to October at 3pm on weekends. Booking in advance is a must.

Ryedale Vineyards, North Yorkshire

The UK’s most northerly commercial vineyard, Ryedale Vineyards is a small family-run business near Malton at the foot of the North Yorkshire Wolds. Enjoy informal tours and tastings, or relax with a stay at the small B&B at the vineyard farmhouse. The 7-acre vineyard, established in 2007, produces an array of white, red, rosé and sparkling wines, as well as cider and apple juice.

When? Tours and tastings take place on selected days at 3pm between April and October, and must be booked in advance.

Rathfinny Estate, West Sussex

A relative newcomer to the English wine scene, having been founded in 2010 by husband and wife team Mark and Sarah Driver, the Rathfinny Estate occupies exceptionally beautiful countryside in the South Downs. With vines separated by rows of wildflowers, the picturesque site has glimpses of the Sussex heritage coast and features an abundance of tour opportunities. The state-of-the-art winery on the estate is capable of producing one million bottles of sparkling wine annually, a process that is explained as part of an exclusive tour and tasting experience that includes food at the site’s Tasting Room restaurant. Visitors can also stay at the Flint Barns or explore the Rathfinny Trail, a pathway that weaves its way through a mosaic of habitats, presenting numerous opportunities to spot plants, flowers and wildlife.

When? Tour, Tastings and Lunch, and Afternoon Tour and Tastings run on selected days between May and September and must be booked in advance. The Rathfinny trail is open daily, but can be closed at short notice for vineyard works.

Six of the best: chances to go foraging for your own food

From rugged coasts surrounding sea teeming with crabs, shellfish and edible seaweed, to fruitful hedgerows and wild mushrooms on forest walks, Britain’s delicious landscape is abundant with tasty morsels – if you know where to look. Join some of Britain’s best foragers and follow your food’s journey from land to plate.

Coastal foraging in North Yorkshire, north-east England

Join Taste the Wild on its one-day coastal foraging course in Staithes, North Yorkshire, where you can learn about the diversity of edible seaweed and shellfish on Britain's rocky coasts. Start your day exploring the foreshore and find seaweeds that can be harvested for food, while discovering different species of crabs and shellfish in the rock pools and gullies. If the sea is calm you’ll pull lobster pots from the sea at low tide and check the catch for size. After a morning of exploring, return to Staithes with your foraged food and enjoy lunch in the Smugglers Gallery or Old Sunday School, where your wild harvest will be served.

Getting there: Staithes is on England’s north-east coast, and is a four and half-hour journey by public transport from London, or a five-hour drive.

Feast with a wild cookery school, in Cornwall, south-west England

Set up by Caroline Davey in 2007, Fat Hen is a wild cookery school. It will take you back to basics, teaching once-vital skills on how to forage, cook and feast on your findings from the wild. Enjoy a two-hour foraging trip to west Cornwall's wild landscapes, including seashore, hedgerow, woodland and farmland, and learn how to forage safely and legally. After your exploration, Caroline will take you back to Fat Hen where you’ll be taught how to cook a series of wild dishes before enjoying them for lunch. 

Getting there: located in Penzance, Cornwall, Fat Hen is a five-hour drive from London, or less than six hours by train.

Get back to nature with Galloway Wild Foods, Scotland

Join Mark, founder of Galloway Wild Foods, in the wild and be inspired by his passion for foraging while you learn about the delicious and nutritious food you can gather in the great outdoors. A full-time foraging tutor, Mark offers an abundance of foraging walks and teaching events for novices and improvers alike in Scotland and northern England; these include specific themed events such as spring plants, coastal foraging, fungi, drunken botany and wild gourmet days.

Getting there: Galloway Wild Foods will be hosting events around Scotland and northern England, check the website for details.

Go seashore and hedgerow foraging through beautiful Welsh countryside, Pembrokeshire, west Wales 

With the Llys Meddyg restaurant and rooms as a basecamp, the estuary, seashore and forest are yours to explore when foraging with Don Lawrence and Ed Sykes through the Welsh countryside. Running on selected dates throughout the year, the four-hour seashore and hedgerow foraging course will take you on a tour of the beautiful local landscape, for a fun and informative guide to food foraging. Taste wild food along the way, as you source ingredients for your lunch while learning how to safely identify and gather your finds.

Getting there: Llys Meddyg is in west Wales, and is a two hour drive from Cardiff.

Return to your wild self with Monica Wilde, locations across Scotland

Join Monica in the wild landscapes of Scotland on one of her foraging walks or day courses, where you'll learn about native plants and their uses as both wild foods and herbal medicines. Head to the East Lothian coast in the winter and identify tasty, edible seaweed and coastal hedgerow plants, while enjoying the crisp stillness of the Scottish coast on a frosty day. If you prefer something a little warmer, head to Edinburgh to celebrate the spring equinox, and hunt for early wild garlic, wild leek, hairy bittercress, dandelion, sweet cicely shoots, and other spring vegetables. Here you'll understand more about edible and medicinal wild plants and how to prepare and cook them. 

Getting there: East Lothian is a 35-minute drive from Edinburgh, which is a 70-minute flight from London.

Tuck into home-foraged food, The Forest Side, Grasmere, Cumbria

Set in a 19th-century Victorian hotel and just minutes from the village of Grasmere, The Forest Side hotel is a serious foodie destination, with Kevin Tickle, former chef and head forager at two Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume, heading up the kitchen. Kevin’s menu changes daily according to produce available within the abundant 46 acres of forageable grounds, and the extensive Victorian walled kitchen garden.

Getting there: located in Grasmere, The Forest Side hotel is a five-hour journey from London by public transport, or five and a half hours by car.

Six of the best: wintry National Trust walks

The National Trust is a charity that looks after some of the most beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It cares for more than 2,400 square kilometres of land and more than 500 historic houses, castles, parks and nature reserves. One of the joys of the British countryside is that you can enjoy it at any time of year. Don't let lower temperatures put you off - grab a warm coat and your National Trust touring pass, and head out on a fresh wintery walk at one of these scenic spots, which display a whole new beauty in frosty or snowy conditions.

 

Box Hill, Surrey, south-east England

Approximately 30km south-west of London is Box Hill, a summit of the Surrey’s North Downs. It takes its name from the ancient box woodland found on the steepest slopes overlooking the River Mole. There are lots of different walks to explore, from a gentle stroll over the top of the famous hill, to a long walk down and up again, taking a well-earnt stop at a pub along the way. If it’s a white winter with a decent layer of snow, Box Hill becomes a sledging playground, with kids and adults alike hurtling down its famous slopes, and lots of enthusiastic snow fights!

 

Bath Skyline, Somerset, south-west England   

Once you’ve explored the beautiful city of Bath, a short stroll from its centre is the six-mile Skyline trail, taking you up onto the hills overlooking Bath and beyond. The route boasts magnificent views and you'll wander through history, passing an Iron Age hill fort and 18th-century follies. The path continues through meadows, ancient woodlands and secluded valleys, which look even more beautiful covered in wintery frost or a dusting of snow.

 

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, east Midlands, England

Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Although the house was demolished in 1938, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore, including the Gothic-style chapel, often referred to as a 'Cathedral in miniature'. This gentle two-mile walking trail explores the park’s picturesque parkland, heathland, gardens and peaceful woodlands. The views of Clumber Lake – particularly from Clumber Bridge – are stunning.

 

Divis and the Black Mountain, County Antrim,  Northern Ireland   

This challenging three-mile Summit Trail takes you along the Tipperary Road through open heath, following a way marked trail to the highest peak in the Belfast Hills, Divis Mountain. Overlooking the city of Belfast below and with magnificent views of Lough Neagh, the Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough, this is a fantastic vantage point from which to take in the magnificent scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer.

 

Dinefwr Park, Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales

Discover ancient oaks and wildlife during this scenic one-and-a-half mile route, which was designed by landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. It takes you through Dinefwr deer park, which surrounds 12th-century Dinefwr Castle. Fallow deer roam the park and are often joined by a neighbouring second herd in winter. Keep a look out for majestic Newton House, and some of the park's 150 ancient trees that you'll pass; there are nearly 300 ancient trees at Dinefwr, half of them in the deer park.  

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire, northern England 

Discover the winter landscapes of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden with a five-mile trail that takes you through the deer park and elegant Georgian water garden. The route offers views of Ripon, the distant North York Moors and the impressive ruins of Fountains Abbey. This walk follows around the boundary of the estate, and after taking in the sights of the deer park, wander through the 18th-century water garden and past the magnificent Abbey.