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Ever found yourself coveting the lifestyle of folk who do really interesting foodie stuff at the weekend? You know the type - the ones who instagram pics of themselves building wood fires to roast scallops by on the beach or of their wine tasting at some bucolic vineyard (with their lovely sportscar positioned in the background). If (like us) you're lacking entirely in the organisational skills or drive (literal and figurative) to achieve that, then look no further. We've found a picturesque vineyard in Sussex that you can be sipping wine at in less than 60 minutes from Victoria station. Your lacklustre weekend Instagram feeds are about to be rejuvenated.

Getting here couldn't be easier. You jump on a train from Victoria and pop off at Hayward's Heath 45 minutes later. From here it's just a 10 minute cab ride to the station. From city slicker to country sipper in less time than it takes in the queue for a Bao bun.

The Bolney Estate is one of the UK's longest running commercial vineyards (it started out with just 3 acres in 1972 and now has 39 acres of vines. And its wine is doing very nicely, thank you very much. We visited just days after they'd managed to get their Pinot Gris served in all the boxes (including the royal one) at Wimbledon. Quite a coup and one they were really proud of.


During the week they run all manner of drop in wine tours, vineyard trails and gourmet wine and food evenings, but we were here to try the Saturday afternoon tasting tour. We turned up an hour or so earlier, to enjoy a light lunch in the estate's cafe which prides itself on supporting local artisan producers. Drivers wanting soft drinks can try apple juice frm the marvllously named Wobblegate farm next door to Bolney, cheese come from High Weald Dairy just 11 miles away and the amazing salamis and hams come from nearby Beal's Farm which produces top notch charcuterie from its Mangalitza pigs.

After sitting out in the sunshine enjoying our lunch (there's also plenty of space indooors if the weather isn't so clement) it was time for the one hour tour of the estate. Our guide Nick was learning the winemaking trade at Bolney. He took us on an impressively detailed tour of the vines, covering the history of the British wine industry - we didn't know it was set up by the Romans and wiped out in the middle ages by the cold, only to be resusciated by WW2 veterans who had seen for themselves vineyards in Spain, France and Italy and returned to England brimming with enthusiasm for the grape.


After walking through the vineyard and then seeing where grapes are brought in from harvest and processed into whopping great vats (and - for some wines - oak barrels) it was time for the tasting. Nick talked us through four wines in total - their Wimbledon-rated Pinot Gris, a fabulous Bacchus, their Lychgate Red and then some of their multi award-winning Bolney Bubbly. Everyone on the tour gets a 10% discount on anything they buy on the day, and judging by our tour, no-one went home empty-handed. All in all a great day eating and drinking in the beautiful English countryside.

Details: A Grand Gourmet Tour at Bolney is £85 for two which includes a comprehensive tour of their vineyard and winery, a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, a tutored tasting of the estate's award winning wines and gin and a charcuterie style lunch.

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