A trip to Chianti or the Loire Valley might be out of the question right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up daydreaming about sophisticated days out sipping on sparkling wines. As Europe heats up, the UK is becoming a prime winemaking region, thanks to its dry and warm summers and cool winters. There are now over 500 working vineyards across the UK, producing award-winning white, red, rose and sparkling wines. As well as vineyard tours, many offer scenic tastings, farm-to-table style restaurants and beautiful boutique rooms for the ultimate grape escape. So raise your glass to seven of the best vineyards to visit in the UK.
Best vineyards to visit in the UK
1. Camel Valley, Cornwall
Camel Valley is the only vineyard in the UK with a Royal Warrant. They’ve been producing award-winning wines sparkling rosé and white wines, since 1989, so they’re one of the UK’s oldest vineyards too. Guided tours take place at 10:30 every weekday, with a wine flight of four flagship wines to taste after the tour. The tasting terrace, with its views out over Bodmin moors, is heavenly and even if you’re not in town for a tour, it’s worth stopping by for a glass of sparkling wine with a scenic view. If you can’t get enough, there are two idyllic cottages to rent onsite too.
2. Tillingham, Sussex
Just an hour away from London in the scenic Sussex Hills, you could easily visit Tillingham for the afternoon – but you’ll regret it if you cut your visit short. Boasting 40,000 vines across 70 acres, the winery produces describes its philosophy as ‘progressive, by combining scientific and technological knowledge while championing ancient traditions and practices from millennia of farming.
As well as taking a tour, you can tuck into a delicious meal at the farm-to-fork style restaurant and spend the night in one of 11 stylish rooms in the hop barn.
3. Langham Wine Estate, Dorset
Set deep in Thomas Hardy land in the rolling hills of rural Dorset, Langham produces ‘terroir-driven’ sparkling wines. Their low-intervention approach to winemaking means they only use grapes from the vineyard, they minimise the environmental impact of the process and they don’t fine or filter the wines either. You can tour the vineyards and winery, housed in a characterful old barn with temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and French barriques.
As well as tours and tastings, you can enjoy lunches and afternoon tea, both prepared in the 19th-century milking parlour. Plus, in the autumn you can hands-on, picking the grapes and loading the press for the harvest. You’ll get a glass of bubbles for your efforts too.
4. Chapel Down, Kent
One of Britain’s best-loved vineyards, Chapel Down also became the UK’s biggest winemaker in 2018. The vineyard produces a variety of sparkling rosé and white wines as well as some spirits and beers. Set in acres of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the growers use traditional methods to produce wines. Understandably, they count big celebs among their fans, like Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver and No. 10.
They offer guided tours around the vineyards with a tutored tasting every Wednesday and Sunday. For a quirkier day out, you could opt for one of their ‘Experiences’, like ‘Fizz and Falconry’ and cheese and wine tastings. For something special, the ‘Tasting to Table’ includes vineyard tours and tastings followed by a three-course set dinner.
5. Ryedale Vineyards, Yorkshire
Most of Britain’s best vineyards are set in the South and West Country due to its milder climate and more favourable soil conditions. Ryedale Vineyards is the most northerly commercial winery, located at the foot of the Wolds in North Yorkshire. The family-run winery produces a range of delicious red, white rosé and sparkling wines, plus cider and apple juice. They also run a small and very sweet B&B. Tours run every day at 3 pm and 5 pm and include a tasting in the gardens or large farmhouse kitchen with local cheese too.
If you’re thinking of a gourmet getaway anytime soon, the vineyard is ideally situated near Malton, Yorkshire’s Food Capital.
6. Llanerch Vineyard, Wales
Set in the green valley of Glamorgan, Llnaerch Vineyard is the oldest vineyard in Wales. They produce five varieties of Cariad wines, from light and summery sparkling blush to lively citrussy dry white. You can taste them all on one of their informal and entertaining vineyard tours, which run a few times each day.
In 2019 they opened a hotel in the midst of the vines, and there’s also an excellent restaurant serving up highly refined lunches, dinners and afternoon tea. Head here on a Sunday for a tour and tasting, then hotfoot to the restaurant for one of the best Sunday Roasts in Wales.
7. Rodington, Shropshire
The UK is best known for its sparkling white wines, but at Rodington it’s all about those robust reds. The small family-run vineyard has collected a number of international wine awards since it opened back in 2009, with the reds that rival Australian shiraz.
You can visit the winery and shop for free or book onto a Wine Tasting Experience which includes a tour of the 10-acre vineyard and generous wine tasting services with local cheeses, meats and nibbles.