Add some sparkle to your summer with a tour of a British vineyard
With the warm summer weather and long evenings on the horizon, there’s all the more reason to head outside and enjoy what UK attractions have on offer. So why not experience delicious British wines and the beautiful landscapes of rows of grapevines at one of the many vineyards dotted across the country.
The UK vineyard industry and wine tourism across the country are expected to see a boom in business this year, as more people are looking for summer activities that are unique and closer to home.
There’s no need to travel to world-famous vineyards in Provence and Tuscany, you can still have an authentic wine tasting experience here. With over 500 vineyards in the UK; and over 200 of them open to visitors, there’s plenty of choice with the various tours and facilities available for you to explore. The majority of vineyards across the country offer great deals for groups including discounted tour prices, package tastings and overnight stays.
Ashleigh Ridler takes a look at the many vineyards in our own country who offer tours, wine-tasting and wine-themed holidays for groups.
The largest quantity of UK vineyards and wineries are located in South East England, particularly in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
Also known as English wine country, Kent’s south-facing chalky soil and the mild, dry climate offer perfect conditions that are similar to Champagne in France. And with over 50 vineyards in Kent alone, it proves that the county knows a thing or two about wine.
Award-winning vineyards in the area like Hush Heath Estate, home of the award-winning sparkling wine Balfour Brut Rosé, prove to be the perfect place for your next group trip. With tours and tastings available over the 400-acre estate, including self-guided tours and tastings where you’ll be able to try three different wines, or the private guided tour and tasting for six people, perfect for small groups who want to take away new knowledge of the wine that’s on offer. Prices start from £5 for a self-tutored tasting or £25 for a tasting masterclass.
Denbies in Surrey is one of the largest wine producers in the UK, and one of England’s largest vineyards. The estate offers groups (of 10 or more) reduced prices for their tours, some of which include 50-minute outdoor train tours which take you to some of the most beautiful places on the estate, evening tours, afternoon tea add-ons and joint tours with Painshill Park or the Village Greens Farm Shop are also available.
The estate offers multiple exclusive evening tours for groups, which include An Outdoor Vineyard Train Tour, Vineyard Tour & Canapé Reception, Wine Tasting & Canapé Reception or a Bespoke Blind Wine Tasting & Canapé Reception. Prices are available on request, for more information visit Denbies website.
Tinwood wine treats relaunched
The Tinwood Estate Vineyard near Chichester has relaunched its afternoon tours and tastings. GTO had the pleasure of attending in mid-April, and much enjoyed a talk by the owner Art Tukker, seeing this year’s vines coming to life, and tasting the three excellent sparkling wines that are produced at Tinwood, accompanied by a cheeseboard.
Art Tukker took over the family farm five years ago, and switched production from previous salad crops to take advantage of the chalky land’s suitability for champagne-style grape-growing and wine-making. The chardonnay and pinot noir vines provide the basis of three different sparkling products: Blanc de Blanc, a refreshing apple and tropical fruit tasting pale gold; Brut, a deeper citrus-influenced taste with hints of toast and honey; and a Rose, with flavours of English raspberry and strawberry, and an abundance of bubbles.
The afternoon tours and tastings start at 3 pm and cost £15 per person, or £20 including an accompanying cheeseboard. There is both indoor and outdoor accommodation, including a very comfortably equipped tasting room, and outdoor decking area. You can, of course, buy bottles of the wine at special prices.
As well as the tours, you can even stay on the Estate in three brand new beautifully designed lodges with delightful views over the vineyard, and a really relaxing atmosphere.
Groups can book the experience any afternoon and should enquire about any special discounts.
Ryedale Vineyards in Yorkshire is one of the most northerly vineyards in Britain. Visitors can explore the 12 acres of vines across the estate on a guided tour with one of the winemakers, which will then be followed by a wine and cider tasting that’s paired with a platter of local cheeses. Tours typically last for about two hours, and prices start at £15 per person. Private Tours & Tastings are available for groups of ten or more, and brunch or afternoon tea can also be arranged for larger groups. Contact Ryedale Vineyards directly for prices and to arrange a suitable date for you.
One of the oldest working vineyards in the UK, Adgestone Vineyard on the Isle of Wight has beautiful views across the vineyard and towards the sea. The guided tours around the vineyard will teach guests about the traditional way the vines are planted, and how their various wines are produced. Music events are also held four days a week over the summer. Prices for tours and tastings start at £10 per person, groups of more than six people should contact Adgestone Vineyard for more details on booking a tour, visit the website for further information.
Giffords Hall Vineyard in Suffolk was once the site of a Medieval Abbey, and on the Guided Vineyard Tours, guests have a chance to learn about the history of the vineyard as well as the history of English wine and the varieties and styles of grapes grown there. Giffords Hall offers private tours and tastings for groups starting at £18.50 per person. After the tour of the vineyard, guests are given a tour of the winery itself, followed by a tasting of three still wines and three liqueurs, accompanied by a small side of canapes. These private vineyard tours last approximately an hour and a half and are for a minimum of eight people, all wines opened on the day will be yours to take home, visit the website for information on how to book.
Overnight Vineyard Stays
UK wine producers don’t just want you to drink their wine, they’re encouraging you to come and stay while you enjoy it. With beautiful views of picturesque British landscapes, a wide variety of accommodation options and additional private vineyard tours to add on, an overnight stay at a vineyard is the perfect option for your group to relax and indulge this summer.
Oxney Organic Estate in Sussex offers guests overnight stays at the vineyard. Guests can choose from a three-bedroom Vineyard House next to the vineyard that sleeps eight people, or three converted Oxney Barns located around the communal garden. The Old Barn, The Long Barn and The Little Barn all have a total of seven bedrooms and sleep 14 – 18 people. The estate runs vineyard tours every Friday and Saturday which can be booked online, groups also have the option to arrange private tours.
Woodchester Valley House in Woodchester Valley Vineyard in the Cotswolds is a contemporary house that sleeps up to 12 people and boasts beautiful views across the valley and over the vineyard. Prices start at £450 per night for a minimum of three nights. As well as the house, Woodchester Valley offer guests Vineyard Barn Guest Rooms which sleep two, and The Retreat Farmhouse that sleeps four. More information on prices and availability can be found here.
English Wine & Food Festival at Brightwell Vineyard
On Saturday 10th to Sunday 11th July 2021, vineyards in the Thames and Chilterns region have joined forces with local artisan food producers to bring you the English Wine and Food Festival, at Brightwell Vineyard in Wallingford.
Activities during the event include wine tastings from Vineyards in the Region; wine available to buy by the glass, bottle or case; tutored tasting sessions; over 30 local artisan food and craft suppliers offering tastings and shopping; as well as music throughout the day.
Adult day tickets start at £8 per person, with tutored wine tastings costing £5 per head that are available to book on the day. Head to the English Wine and Food Festival website for further information and tickets.
For a more detailed list of all the vineyards available to visit across the UK, visit Wine GB, where you can search for vineyards by name, region or the facilities available.