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.

The Best Fringe Festivals in 2019

Whether it’s a celebration of live theatre, dance, arts or comedy, fringe festivals can be found in nearly every corner of Britain. Laugh along with the nation’s finest comedians as they prepare for their major tours, take in the sounds of up-and-coming musicians and discover new takes on some of the finest theatrical works. Packed with live entertainment and clever improvisation, these are the best Fringe Festivals to enjoy in 2019.

Maidstone Fringe

Marking the diversity of new and original music in Kent and the South East of England, Maidstone Fringe returns for a 9th year in 2019. Spread across numerous venues in the town centre, including pubs, clubs and music venues, as well as in cafes and coffee shops, the majority of the musical performances are free to attend. Expect a wide array of music too, with everything from rock, indie and pop-punk to blues, acoustic, folk, dance and hip-hop on the bill for 2019.

When? 1-6 May

Brighton Fringe

England’s largest arts festival, featuring more than 4,500 performances and events, takes place across Brighton, embracing all forms of art and artistic impression. Running alongside the Brighton Festival, the Brighton Fringe includes cabaret, classical concerts, club nights, comedy, theatre shows and a host of exhibitions, as well as street performances and exciting pop-up venues. In 2019, the International Seasons programme is also set to welcome some of the best contemporary performances by artists from France, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Iceland, Korea and Sweden, among others, showcasing the event’s global appeal.

When? 3 May – 2 June

Bath Fringe

Incorporating 3 weekends and the weeks in between, the Bath Fringe is a celebration of all the arts, meaning there are few rules regarding what is on. Both the people of Bath and venues in the city have a big say over what is included, with a detailed events list usually published in April.

When? 24 May - 9 June

Plymouth Fringe

An annual celebration of theatre and live performance, Plymouth Fringe welcomes some of the best talent in the South West, as well as others from across Britain. With venues in the city centre and on the waterfront, expect a host of inspiring performances as the Fringe marks its 5th consecutive year.

When? 27 May – 1 June

Ludlow Fringe

Ludlow Fringe is an independent arts, community and culture festival with a focus on inclusivity. Many of its events are free to attend, while prices are capped at £15 on those that are not, to ensure that events are affordable and accessible. Be sure to check out the Annual Ludlow Fringe Art Trail too, a diverse collection of affordable art by local and national artists that is showcased in 25 different pop-up venues and galleries. Featuring paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, print and jewellery, and much more besides, the quirky venues are all located a short distance from the town centre.

When? 15-30 June

Guildford Fringe

Now in its 7th year, the Guildford Fringe is a multi-arts festival that features comedy, poetry, theatre, music, visual arts, workshops, burlesque and an abundance of family-friendly shows. Gag House Comedy Superstars kicks-off proceedings on 28 June, featuring comedian and actor Hal Cruttenden, Paul Sinha from TV’s The Chase and Susan Murray. Around 125 events made up the 2018 Guildford Fringe, and its organisers are expecting even more for 2019.

When? 28 June – 28 July

Greater Manchester Fringe

A multi-venue arts festival packed with comedy stand up, dance, magic shows, orchestras, new writing and a wealth of other art forms, the Greater Manchester Fringe provides a stage for performers to showcase their skills. It often acts as a platform for productions too - many past shows have moved onto the region’s established theatres including the Lowry Theatre, the Royal Exchange and the Bolton Octagon, or have embarked on nationwide tours. Now in its 8th year, a full programme of events for 2019 will be released at the start of May.

When 1-31 July

The Great Yorkshire Fringe

As part of its 5th anniversary celebrations, the Great Yorkshire Fringe is set to expand across York in 2019 to feature even more cultural venues. The historic city’s well-known thoroughfare, Parliament Street, will be transformed into an exciting festival hub offering everything from comedy and cabaret to music, theatre and fun for all the family. Performances from comedian Henning Wehn and writer, broadcaster and actor Gyles Brandreth already feature on the bill for 2019, as well as Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel, an entirely improvised performance showcasing Jane Austen’s work in a new light.

When? 18-28 July (20 July, Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel; 21 July, Gyles Brandreth; 27 July, Henning Wehn)

Llangollen Fringe

Final details for the 2019 Llangollen Fringe are yet to be announced, but the celebration of music, dance, film and art will return to the small town of Llangollen, in North Wales, this year. With an eclectic mix of musical and artistic talents on its bill each year, the festival is town centre based, providing easy access to pubs, restaurants and car parks. Taking centre stage is the Victorian Llangollen Town Hall, which boasts its own 300-seat capacity theatre.

When? 19-28 July

Reading Fringe

Designed to support emerging artists and to provide a platform for them ahead of the world famous Edinburgh Fringe, the Reading Fringe welcomes acts to the town from all over the globe. With venues spread across the town, the theme for 2019 is ‘Into the woods – and beyond’, an exploration of what it means to be part of an ecosystem and a consideration of what the future holds for Earth.

When? 20-28 July

Ventnor Fringe

A multi-award winning arts festival on the Isle of Wight, the Ventnor Fringe includes an array of exciting venues in the eclectic hillside town. Alongside cabaret, music, theatre and art, visitors can also expect to see pop-up cinemas, basement bars and mystery tours.

When? 23-28 July

Camden Fringe

From its origins in 2006 as an alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Camden Fringe provides performers with a chance to try out new and untested material. Encompassing all forms of performing arts, the Fringe welcomes both ambitious newcomers and experienced performers as they deliver new writing, sketch comedy, poetry, improvisation and everything in between. A full programme of events is expected in spring 2019.

When? 29 July – 25 August

Edinburgh Fringe

Renowned around the globe as being a platform for creative freedom, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the single biggest celebration of arts and culture in the world. Welcoming the finest performers to the Scottish capital, from the biggest names in show business to emerging stars, and covering all sorts of art forms, the festival features more than 50,000 performances each year. More than 300 venues provide the stages, alongside street events and market stalls, showcasing theatre, dance, comedy, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, exhibitions and speech – if it’s a form of art, it’s probably on the bill somewhere.

When? 2-26 August

Celebrate World Art Day with the UK's top literature and art festivals

Celebrated on 15 April each year, marking the birthday of influential artist Leonardo da Vinci, World Art Day promotes awareness of creative activities around the globe. But in Britain celebrations of the arts are not limited to just one day, as there are a wide array of enthralling literature and art festivals taking place throughout the year.

Insiders/Outsiders

From March 2019, a year-long nationwide arts festival will celebrate refugees that escaped from Nazi Europe and their impact on British culture. Insiders/ Outsiders will feature exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, lectures, dance and theatre performances, walks and literary events all over Britain. It seeks to showcase the influence of artists, writers, architects, designers, actors, photographers, musicians, publishers, art historians, dealers and collectors, among many others, who have enriched Britain’s culture having fled Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and initiated by art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen, the festival recognises the deep, long-lasting and wide-ranging contributions that refugees have made, and continue to make, to society.

When? March 2019 – March 2020

 

Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival

Found within the picturesque grounds and house of Chiddingstone Castle in Kent, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is returning for a fourth year in 2019. Featuring a number of author events, talks, workshops and performances, the festival is carefully tailored to ensure there is something for people of all ages and interests. Alongside clay modelling workshops with Aardman Animations, who are marking 30 years of Wallace and Gromit, they’ll also be a chance to meet the illustrator of children’s classic Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, as well as life drawing and writing workshops for budding artists and writers.

When? 4-7 May

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival

Marking its 12th year in 2019 and welcoming celebrity speakers and best-selling authors, the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival has a varied mix of workshops, panel discussions and other events. A programme of educational events runs alongside the festival, developed to inspire school children with help from authors, poets and illustrators. The festival’s first Writer’s Day will provide guidance for anyone looking to get work published, and while there will be events for families throughout the week, 5 May will be solely dedicated to children’s activities.

When? 27 April – 5 May

 

Hay Festival Wales

The annual Hay Festival in Wales has progressed significantly across the last three decades and features a host of events set against a glorious countryside backdrop on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. Bringing together readers and writers to share stories and ideas, including Nobel-Prize winners, novelists, historians, politicians and scientists, the festival explore the latest thinking and developments in the arts and sciences. Having welcomed key speakers including Bill Clinton, Jacqueline Wilson and Stephen Fry in the past, the line-up for 2019 includes 2018 Man Booker Prize Winner Anna Burns, author and journalist Leila Slimani, and comedian Jimmy Carr, among many others.

When? 23 May – 2 June

 

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

A selection of the best international and UK crime fiction writers will venture to the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for the award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Held at Agatha Christie’s former haunt, the festival has achieved international acclaim for its celebration of crime writing and will welcome James Patterson, Jo Newsbo, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin in 2019, alongside many other recognised crime fiction writers.

When? 18-21 July

Port Eliot Festival

Dubbed a celebration of ‘words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration, fun and all that is good in the world’, the Port Eliot Festival in the parish of St Germans in Cornwall welcomes an eclectic mix of authors and others from the world of art and literature. The Fashion Foundation site has a distinct focus on fashion and art, with workshops, talks and exhibitions all taking place within the Walled Garden at Port Eliot, while award-winning BBC Newsnight and election journalist Emily Maitlis and stand-up comedian Shappi Khorsandi are among those on the bill for the 2019 festival. A huge range of outdoor activities also take place within the grounds.

When? 25-28 July

 

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Welcoming around 1,000 authors to a specially created tented village in the centre of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Book Festival includes more than 900 events for people of all ages. Nobel and Booker prize-winners are among those to feature on past line-ups, alongside sportsmen and women, illustrators, philosophers, scientists, poets, comic creators, biographers, economists and musicians. A full programme of events of the festival is revealed in June.

When? 10-26 August

 

Curious Arts Festival

Relocating in 2019 from the surroundings of Pylewell Park in the New Forest to Pippingford Park in East Sussex, the Curious Arts Festival is a family-friendly arts and music festival that plays host to plenty of well-known authors, comedians and musicians. Expect talks on challenging topics, an extensive set of workshops and experiences, and an exceptional programme of events for children. Those with tickets to Curious Arts will also be able to access Byline Festival on the same weekend, a festival that promotes independent journalism and free speech.

When? 23-26 August

London Literary Festival

The London Literary Festival returns to London’s South Bank Centre for its 13th year in October, bringing together writers, journalists and creative thinkers for 11 days of readings, talks, poetry and performance. The Southbank Centre’s longest running festival, Poetry International, will kick-start proceedings, having been founded by former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes in 1967. Past speakers at the festival have included author Phillip Pullman, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy and actor Tom Hanks.

When? 17-27 October

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Established in 1949, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is the UK’s oldest festival of its type and welcomes more than 600 of the world’s writers, politicians, poets and actors to celebrate the written word. Around 500 events and workshops are packed into the 10-day festival, which also features Book It!, a series of events aimed specifically at families and young children.

When? 4-13 October