One side benefit of being stuck in the UK this summer is the impetus it's given us to discover new places to visit and explore. And we can't think of a better place for Londoners who are into their food and wine, than a vineyard visit. Luckily there are simply loads that are an easy day trip away - we've picked some of the best offering vineyard tours, tastings and more. As you'd expect Covid has had an impact, but everyone on this list has now reopened for public visits.
Where: Foxhole Ln, Bolney, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17 5NB
How to get here: It’s about a 15-minute taxi trip from Haywards Heath station.
This bucolic spot in the Sussex countryside turns out award-winning wines. We’d suggest booking ahead for the Grand Gourmet tour which includes a two-course seasonal buffet lunch, a tutored tasting of five of our award-winning wines with a food matching plate and some Bolney Estate Gin sampling too, all for just £45 per person.
Find them on Instagram: @bolneyestate
Where: Gardener’s Rest, Forty Hall Farm, Forty Hill, Enfield EN2 9HA
How to get here: London bus routes 191 or W10 go to within a 10-minute walk of the vineyard or it’s a 20-minute walk from Turkey Street overground station.
Billed as "the first commercial-scale vineyard in London since the middle ages" this North London vineyard is just off the A10 on an estate that dates back to the 1600s. The mainly volunteer-run vineyard produces a range of still and sparkling wines. The grounds are quite lovely and there’s a farm shop that’s open on Friday/Sat/Sunday where you can buy wine to take home with you.
Find them on Instagram: @fhvlondon
Where: Kenardington Rd, Appledore, Ashford, Kent TN26 2BE
How to get here: Jump on a Javelin train from St Pancras to Ashford International and they’re a short taxi journey from the station.
Gusbourne produces world-class wines that you may have tried at the likes of L'enclume, Moor Hall or Le Gavroche. If the weather’s clement than the Gusbourne wine picnics sound top-notch - choose from charcuterie, seafood and vegetarian accompanied by a bottle of their Brut Reserve 2016. If you’d prefer to learn more about the wine then they also do summer evening tasting tours of the vineyard which include a cheeseboard and guided tasting.
Find them on Instagram: @gusbourne_wine.
Where: Wield Yard, Lower Wield, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9AJ
How to get here: This is really a drive-only option.
We love the wines from this vineyard (you may have tried their wines on the Grand Duchess boat run by the London Shell Co) and really enjoyed our own tour here last summer. For now, they’re doing wine tasting tours every Saturday and Sunday for just £17.50. If all this makes you peckish, they can recommend a couple of great nearby pubs for a country lunch afterwards.
Find them on Instagram: @hattingleywines.
Where: Five Oak Ln, Staplehurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 0HT
How to get here: Take the train from London Bridge to Marden. You can sign up in advance to be part of the shared minibus shuttle service from the station.
This impressive vineyard is more along the lines of the kind you’d visit in Napa or Stellenbosh. There’s a huge winery, and while you’re welcome to do your own self-guided tour, you can push the boat out and opt for the private Balfour Wine and Dining Experience where you’re met at the train station, then given a tour and tutored tasting followed by a wine-paired lunch (£125). The estate and cellar door shop are open seven days a week
Find them on Instagram: @hushheath
Where: Gay Street, Nr. Pulborough, West Sussex, RH20 2HH
How to get here: Either by car or head to Pulbourne station where you'll need a pre-booked taxi to take you the 10 minutes to the vineyard.
In London, the Gladwin family are best known for their restaurants but in West Sussex, it’s all about their farm and vineyard where they produce a range of well-respected wines, including a blush and a Pinot Noir. There are wine tours every Wednesday and Saturday (there’s usually a pop-up restaurant in the summer but not this year because of Covid). From the cellar door shop, you can stock up on wine along with meat boxes from the farm.
Find them on Instagram: @nutbournevineyards
Where: Hobbs Lane, Beckley, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6TU
How to get here: They say “we’re down the longest dead-end in Sussex,” so you’re going to need a car.
Oxney Organic Estate in East Sussex is the largest single estate organic vineyard in the UK. Visitors there can either stop by their tasting room and shop or option to go on a guided tour and tasting. Try their organic still and sparkling wines which are made according to a low intervention, natural winemaking ethos. If you want to make a weekend of it they have a range of cottages and shepherds huts on the estate you can stay in. Note that they’re closed on Sundays and bank holidays.
Find them on Instagram: @oxneyorganicestate
Where: White Way, Polegate, East Sussex BN26 5TU, United Kingdom
How to get here: The nearest train station is Polegate where you can catch buses to nearby Alfriston and walk the rest of the way.
This decade-old winery is dedicated to the production of world-class Sussex sparkling wines with bookable tours and tastings. But they’re also big on food. For harvest seaon (1 October to 8 November) they're doing lunches and dinners cooked over an open-fire along with overnight packages which include grape picking experience tours and wine tastings.
Find them on Instagram: @rathfinnyestate
Where: Terlingham Manor Farm, Terlingham Ln, Old Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent.
How to get here: They’re 10 minutes by taxi from both Folkestone West and Central train station.
If natural wines are your thing, then this small vineyard in Kent should be on your to-visit list. Tours on a Wednesday and Friday are by appointment only and are what they dub “an intimate experience”. They’ll show you how their natural winemaking methods work followed by a tasting in their gazebo, complete with cheese board and a slice of homemade cake - all for £30.
Find them on Instagram: @terlingham_vineyard
Where: The Vyneyarde, Westwell Ln, Charing, Kent TN27 0BW
How to get here: Take the fast train to Ashford, then it's a quick 10 minute branch line train journey to Charing.
Experimentation is the name of the game at this North Downs vineyard - skin contact, wild ferments, amphora, pet nats you name it, they'll have a go at it. It's successful too - in London you'll find their wines everywhere from The Drop in King's Cross to Brunswick House and Levan. Tours take place Wednesday and Saturday throughout August and cost just £15 for lovely tramp through the vineyards followed by a tasting.
Find out more about Westwell Wines @westwellwines
Also worth visiting:
At Henley on Thames, Fairmile Vineyard are turning out an award-winning sparkling wine (Decanter Magazine gave it its highest rating this year). It's a 5 minute taxi ride or pleasant 20 minute walk to the vineyard from the town's station. For their August open days you can do self-guided tours or book into a fomal tour and tasting.
All the vineyard visiting details were checked on 29 July 2020. But please call ahead to double-check that a vineyard is open before you travel.
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