Wine tasting in the garden of England: Taking the Estate Tour at Gusbourne

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewLow wine miles - enjoying a glass of Gusbourne on their Kent estate

What's so special about Gusbourne?

Despite only being in the wine game since the turn of the millennium (their first release was in 2006), this English vineyard has forged quite the reputation for its wines. They're currently the only three-time winner of the International Wine & Spirits Challenge English Wine Producer of the Year. Their Blanc de Blancs 2016 won Platinum at this year's Decanter World Wine Awards. So it's fair to say they're a pretty big deal in the English wine world. You will almost certainly have seen their wines on lists at some of the best restaurants in London, including Core by Clare Smyth, Restaurant Story and The Ritz.

Where is it?

You'll find the main part of the vineyard in Appledore Kent (named because it used to be an orchard back in the 1400s rather than a vineyard). Gusbourne occupies a really beautiful stretch of this part of Kent, with vines running down the hillside and the south coast on the horizon.

The story behind it is that South African orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Weeber spotted the land's similarity to his home in Stellanbosh when he was here visiting his daughter. He decided to buy some land and create a vineyard to see if he was right about its suitability for grape growing (it was a good decision). 

How do I get there?

It's a super easy trip from London. Take the fast train from St Pancras and you're in Ashford in under 40 minutes. From there, it's about a ten-minute taxi ride to Gusbourne.

What kind of tours do they offer?

We've been to quite a few English vineyards but we were properly impressed by the set-up at Gusbourne. They've made the most of their gorgeous setting to create a whole variety of places to enjoy their wines on-site, from tasting tables under great oaks to more formal (and weatherproofed) tasting rooms.

There are three tours on offer - a Vineyard Tour, Discovery Tour and Estate Tour. All include a guided tour of the vineyard, with the more expensive options including tastings and lunch. We were signed up to the top of the range Estate Tour. Here's how that went.

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewGlass in hand, we were taken up through the nearest vineyard. Gusbourne has two estates - the largest is here in Kent, but they also have 30 hectares in West Sussex. Those are planted with the three classic varieties of grapes that are used to make methode champenoise wines - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewOur guide Basil, having given our group a quick tour of the vines, cracked open a couple of bottles of their 2017 Brut Reserve. On a sunny day, shaded by the branches of a huge old oak tree there are few nicer places to be in England.

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewThe estate is dotted with alfresco spaces to enjoy a guided tipple (there's even a reed system outdoor loo if you need it).

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewBack at the tasting room which has a small information centre below and a dining room with terrace upstairs we got ready for a tasting of some exclusive rare release and limited-edition wines.

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewA real treat was trying their Chardonnay, Guinevere, which is practically impossible to get hold of unless you're a member of their wine club or, as we did, buy a bottle here at the cellar door.

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewLaura Rhys is Gusbourne's Master Sommelier and Global Ambassador so if you're particularly lucky she might be around to lead you in a tasting of six wines.

gusbourne vineyard tour reviewEstate tours include a three-course meal where the focus is on locally sourced food. On our visit this included Hastings Mackerel, Fennel, Pea & Mint Salad, followed by Sussex Pork Chop, Jersey Royal Potato, Garden Beans, Sage Butter and finishing on Almond Cake, Rhubarb Cream. All paired with Gusbourne wines, of course. 

Summing up:

Whether you're happy enough to do a self-guided tour when you visit an English vineyard, or would like the full shebang with an expert tasting and locavore lunch, there's something at Gusbourne for everyone. It really is an easy (and lovely) day out for Londoners with it being less than an hour from the city to the cellar door. And that's all before we even get to the wines themselves, which are excellent. Highly recommended.


More about the Gusbourne Estate Tour

Where is it? Kenardington Rd, Appledore, Ashford TN26 2BE

How much? £95 per person

How to book: Book online.

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @gusbourne_wine

Hot Dinners visited as guests of Gusbourne. Prices correct at time of publication. 

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