7 fabulous wine regions to visit in England

7 fabulous wine regions to visit in England

Discover the best places in England for a wine-tastic getaway and learn about the country’s flourishing vineyards.

Brits may be better known for drinking wine than producing it, but did you know there are more than 700 individual vineyards in the British Isles? The British climate has improved in recent decades and new grape varieties have sprung up, so it has become easier to produce the delicious tipple. 

If you’re looking to sip on some native flavours of wine while you’re in the UK, head straight to the source: these British wineries are excellent spots to indulge in – and, of course, learn about – the best wine regions around the country.

1 Three Choirs Vineyards – Gloucestershire

Visit the Three Choirs Vineyards and hear tales from one of the oldest winemakers who played a key role in the establishment of the English wine movement in the 1970s. This Gloucestershire vineyard has it all: a grape-to-glass experience, a tour of the vineyard and a fine dining journey that leads you to their brasserie where they offer an exclusive tasting of their award-winning collection such as Noble Harvest and the signature Classic Cuvee n/v.

The strong influence of berries in their blend can be traced back to the fact that Three Choirs started as a fruit farm, and didn’t start producing wine until the year 1976. The brasserie and luxury lodges, however, are newer -book these in advance for tours, tasting sessions and stays.

Address: Baldwins Farm, Newent GL18 1LS, United Kingdom

Website: three-choirs-vineyards.co.uk

2 Chapel Down Winery – Kent

Chapel Down Winery

Chapel Down Winery (c) chapeldown.com

If you’re planning a trip to Kent, make a detour to the borough of Ashford, in particular to the Chapel Down Winery near the town of Tenterden. The wine scene here is a combination of the traditional crafting method with the finest English-grown fruits such as apricots and peaches, along with aromatic gins and vodka, some exciting flavours that will add to your experience here.

Open for tours and visitors throughout the year, you can now also enjoy a pre-visit virtual tour of the vineyard. When in Chapel Down, explore the reason why Bacchus grapes make for the best English Sauvignon Blanc, and if you fall in love with the charismatic vistas here – which is bound to be the case – you can lease space in the vineyard for an intimate experience.

Address: Vineyard, Chapel Down, Small Hythe Rd, Tenterden TN30 7NG, United Kingdom

Website: chapeldown.com

3 Ridgeview – South Downs

Enjoying the sunshine, sparkling wine and other local produce at Ridgeview Garden

Enjoying the sunshine, sparkling wine and other local produce at Ridgeview Garden Launch Party (c) Julia Claxton

It’s not just English ales that are getting rediscovered but English wine is as well. While you’re in the South Downs, stop by this small, family-run winery in the village of Ditchling that boasts a “minimal intervention” crafting process from handpicked berries that makes for a perfect blend of their award-winning wine.

Unlike other vineyards in England, Ridgeview focuses on the production of premium quality sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Enjoy a tour of the vast yards, observe their trademark style of wine-making, and stay for their extravagant Chef Dinner events that bring together the best of food and wine this countryside gem has to offer.

Address: Ditchling Common, Fragbarrow Lane BN6 8TP, United Kingdom

Website: ridgeview.co.uk

4 Rathfinny Estate – Sussex

Rathfinny Estate

Rathfinny Estate (c) rathfinnyestate.com

If the Mark and Sarah Driver’s RIBA-nominated winery isn’t reason enough to visit the Rathfinny Estate, go for the Vintage Sussex Sparkling that is fermented in-bottle. A traditional method of wine-making inspired by the conventional style of Champagne production in France, take a tour of their establishment to uncover their five key steps and a handful of close-kept secrets for the perfect cuvée.

Join for a “Portfolio tastings” to quaff their expertly-crafted line of Sussex wines, and if you are looking for cases to take home with you, it must include a bottle or two of Rathfinny Blanc de Noirs 2016 – a signature blend aged for 36-months for the richest expression of their heritage.

Address: Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5TU

Website: rathfinnyestate.com

5 Camel Valley – Cornwall

Camel Valley

Camel Valley (c) camelvalley.com

A beautiful countryside vineyard in the heart of Cornwall, Camel Valley is a family-run estate that has crafted varieties of still and sparkling wine in Bodmin since 1989. Situated on the perfect, sun-kissed banks of Camel River, the tasting terrace offers a majestic view of the central Cornish countryside. Take a self-guided trek along the coastline, or book a guided tour through the vineyards, and sip on some world-class blends that have been nominated for countless national and international awards.

Address: Camel Valley, Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5LG

Website: camelvalley.com

6 Oxney Organic Estate – Kent

Oxney Organic Estate

Oxney Organic Estate (c) oxneyestate.com

The world-class winery in Kent’s southeastern highlands, where Oxney organic wines are made, is set among 35 acres of orchards which produced 20 per cent of all organic grapes in the UK. Tours and tasting sessions are just £20 during which you can take in the aesthetic village setting, complete with views of undulating verdant Great Dixter and the surrounding grasslands.

 

Stays are also available for travellers in the vineyard or at the Oxney Barns in Stone Cum Ebony, though, be sure to book in advance.

Address: Oxney Organic Estate, Hobbs Lane, Beckley, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6TU

Website: oxneyestate.com

 

7 Hush Heath Estate

Hush Heath Estate

Hush Heath Estate (c) hushheath.com

In easy reach of the popular towns of Maidstone and Canterbury, Hush Heath Estate is one of the most respected wine producers in England and has been producing wine since 2002. Their proud signature wine – the Balfour Brut Rosé – is an award-winning blend that is a sommelier favourite, and was also the official English wine served at the London 2012 Olympics.

With a huge range to try, you can taste your way through Leslie’s Reserve Brut, a traditionally crafted sparkling wine, Balfour’s Saignée, and Liberty’s Bacchus, among others.

Address: Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 0HT

Website: hushheath.com

3 Ridgeview – South Downs

Enjoying the sunshine, sparkling wine and other local produce at Ridgeview Garden

Enjoying the sunshine, sparkling wine and other local produce at Ridgeview Garden Launch Party (c) Julia Claxton

It’s not just English ales that are getting rediscovered but English wine is as well. While you’re in the South Downs, stop by this small, family-run winery in the village of Ditchling that boasts a “minimal intervention” crafting process from handpicked berries that makes for a perfect blend of their award-winning wine.

Unlike other vineyards in England, Ridgeview focuses on the production of premium quality sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Enjoy a tour of the vast yards, observe their trademark style of wine-making, and stay for their extravagant Chef Dinner events that bring together the best of food and wine this countryside gem has to offer.

Address: Ditchling Common, Fragbarrow Lane BN6 8TP, United Kingdom

Website: ridgeview.co.uk

4 Rathfinny Estate – Sussex

Rathfinny Estate

Rathfinny Estate (c) rathfinnyestate.com

If the Mark and Sarah Driver’s RIBA-nominated winery isn’t reason enough to visit the Rathfinny Estate, go for the Vintage Sussex Sparkling that is fermented in-bottle. A traditional method of wine-making inspired by the conventional style of Champagne production in France, take a tour of their establishment to uncover their five key steps and a handful of close-kept secrets for the perfect cuvée.

Join for a “Portfolio tastings” to quaff their expertly-crafted line of Sussex wines, and if you are looking for cases to take home with you, it must include a bottle or two of Rathfinny Blanc de Noirs 2016 – a signature blend aged for 36-months for the richest expression of their heritage.

Address: Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5TU

Website: rathfinnyestate.com

5 Camel Valley – Cornwall

Camel Valley

Camel Valley (c) camelvalley.com

A beautiful countryside vineyard in the heart of Cornwall, Camel Valley is a family-run estate that has crafted varieties of still and sparkling wine in Bodmin since 1989. Situated on the perfect, sun-kissed banks of Camel River, the tasting terrace offers a majestic view of the central Cornish countryside. Take a self-guided trek along the coastline, or book a guided tour through the vineyards, and sip on some world-class blends that have been nominated for countless national and international awards.

Address: Camel Valley, Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5LG

Website: camelvalley.com


6 Oxney Organic Estate – Kent

Oxney Organic Estate

Oxney Organic Estate (c) oxneyestate.com

The world-class winery in Kent’s southeastern highlands, where Oxney organic wines are made, is set among 35 acres of orchards which produced 20 per cent of all organic grapes in the UK. Tours and tasting sessions are just £20 during which you can take in the aesthetic village setting, complete with views of undulating verdant Great Dixter and the surrounding grasslands.

Stays are also available for travellers in the vineyard or at the Oxney Barns in Stone Cum Ebony, though, be sure to book in advance.

Address: Oxney Organic Estate, Hobbs Lane, Beckley, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6TU

Website: oxneyestate.com

 

7 Hush Heath Estate

Hush Heath Estate

Hush Heath Estate (c) hushheath.com

 

In easy reach of the popular towns of Maidstone and Canterbury, Hush Heath Estate is one of the most respected wine producers in England and has been producing wine since 2002. Their proud signature wine – the Balfour Brut Rosé – is an award-winning blend that is a sommelier favourite, and was also the official English wine served at the London 2012 Olympics.

 

With a huge range to try, you can taste your way through Leslie’s Reserve Brut, a traditionally crafted sparkling wine, Balfour’s Saignée, and Liberty’s Bacchus, among others.

 

Address: Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 0HT

Website: hushheath.com

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Five fabulous Glamping getaways in England

Five fabulous Glamping getaways in England

Camp in style and comfort at one of these fabulous Glamping getaways located across England’s stunning countryside.

 

Now more than ever, we are all itching to pack our bags, clamber in our cars and head out on an adventure. International travel may not be possible this summer for Brits, so why not avoid the anxiety and book something a little closer to home?

“Glamping” (glamorous camping) combines all of the best parts of a British holiday: the great and beautiful outdoors, fun activities, delicious home cooking and good value for money.

And the best part? Whether you are staying in a bell tent, treehouse, converted van or wooden “pod”, you’ll be sleeping in comfort and style, rather than squashed in a tent you can’t stand up in and showering with a water bottle and funnel.

Check out our recommendations for five fabulous Glamping sites located across England.

Kymani Getaways – Southern England

If your Glamping ideal involves a bell tent, then look no further than Kymani Getaways, who run several Glamping sites across Hampshire, Wiltshire, Suffolk and Surrey. Each site contains 10 spectacular bell tens along with a huge, central tipi and a firepit for cooking and socialising.

The bell tents are 6 metres tall and each contains a double and two single beds, all with proper mattresses. The tents are furnished with pretty rugs and mats, a full-length mirror, a vintage storage trunk and a wood-burning stove to keep you toasty warm during those cool summer evenings.

Kymani’s Glamping sites are ideal for large groups of friends or family as you can pre-book live entertainment and activities, as well as pre-ordering all your food and drink.

Best for: hippy vibes and family fun

Fir Hill Estate – Cornwall

overlooks the Porth Reservoir and is just four miles from the popular surfing town of Newquay. The site is home to nine traditional luxury yurts (sleeping up to six) and three smaller couples’ yurt.

The spacious yurts (6.6m in diameter) are decorated with bright, cheery furnishings and include double beds, private cooking area with gas stove, cool box and running water for drinking and washing up.

The site has individual bathroom facilities and a TV and games room. Guests can explore the 60-acre estate with its magical woodlands and ancient ruins.

The Quiet Site – Cumbria

 Best for: scenic walks and eco-friendly tourism

The Quiet Site in Cumbria overlooks Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District. With the Lake District on our doorstep, you’ll have access to incredible walks, magical waterfalls and a fun selection of outdoor activities including kayaking, paddleboarding and the GoApe high ropes course.

The eco-friendly site contains six luxury Glamping cabins that sleep two adults. The 15 sqm cabins have underfloor heating, sprung double bed, kitchen appliances and utensils, full Wi-Fi and their own inside WC, basin, shower and towels. The cabins also contain a covered outside viewing area with deck chairs.

The Quiet Site is committed to ethical tourism and has planted more than 500 trees around the local area. If you arrive by public transport or on foot, you’ll receive a discount on your booking.

East Shilvinghampton – Dorset

 Best for: beach access and cute farm animals

Located just a short drive from the white sands of Weymouth Beach and pebble-strewn Chesil Beach, East Shilvinghampton contains three luxurious canvas lodges that sleep between two and six people. Each lodge is equipped with at least one double bed, wood stove, kitchen facilities and private flushing toilet.

The lodges are located close to the farmyard, which is home to cows, goats, pigs, hens and ducks. Recently East Shilvinghampton has also added alpacas to their farmyard family, and during weekends and bank holidays you can book a tour of the local area while walking with an alpaca.

It is also possible for guests to book a private soak in East Shilvinghampton’s onsite Jacuzzi, complete with hydrotherapy jets to soothe your aching muscles.

Secret Cloud House – Staffordshire

Best for: romantics and luxury seekers

Secret Cloud House contains five luxurious yurts with uninterrupted views across the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Peak District beyond.

The site has a fairytale feel about it, surrounded by lush meadows and decorated with twinkling lights and candles. As well as the yurts, there is an onsite “Shepherds Rest” massage treatment room and wood-fired sauna that comes with an essential oil menu.

The yurts are equipped with wood-fired private hot tubs, wood-burning stoves and skylights that are ideal for a spot of stargazing on a clear night. Each yurt has its own plush décor, with handmade double beds dressed with Egyptian cotton linen, featherdown duvets and Staffordshire wool blankets.

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Top 10 things to see and do in Dorset, England

Top 10 things to see and do in Dorset, England

You’ll never struggle for things to do in Dorset. Here are some of our top recommendations, written by a local lass who loves her county.

Dorset with its long swathes of Jurassic coastline has always been one of South West England’s most popular seaside destinations. It forms part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site.

The county is also known for its pretty, rural villages (there are more than 300) that offer beautiful walks and quaint local pubs serving proper English cider and delicious home-cooked food.

Yet Dorset isn’t only about picturesque views and seaside frolics. There are so many fun things to see and do here, and if you like the great outdoors you’ll never get bored. I should know – I grew up here!

Here’s a round-up of some of my favourite activities.

Explore the Jurassic Coast
Avoid the risk of overcrowding at the likes of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door and head to one of Dorset’s less well-known spots along the Jurassic Coast. One of my personal favourites is Kimmeridge Bay near Wareham, which is a fantastic place for fossil spotting (just don’t take them home with you).

Marvel at the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle

Just a 15-minute drive from the Jurassic Coast is one of England’s iconic ruins: Corfe Castle. Perched upon a hilltop overlooking the quaint village of the same name, the castle was constructed over a thousand years ago. The castle keep was built for King Henry I, William the Conqueror’s son and witnessed centuries of conflict, treachery and even treason before being partially demolished in the 17th century by the Parliamentarians.

There are some lovely trails that loop around the site. Sit down and relax on one of the benches and admire the castle from afar as sheep graze cheerfully on the steep hill.

Corfe Castle also has a National Trust shop, an 18th-century tea rooms with a garden and a visitor centre.

Try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding

The area around Bournemouth Pier is one of Dorset’s most popular surfing spots, as the shelter from the pier creates some fantastic swells. It’s an exhilarating sport and allows you to connect with nature. If you have never tried surfing before, you can learn with Surf Steps, which is located about 500m from nearby Boscombe Pier. All instructors at the surfing school are accredited professional instructors and all equipment (including surfboards and wetsuits) is included in the price.

If surfing sounds a bit hardcore, you can also try out paddleboarding, the surfboard’s chilled-out cousin. Paddleboards are wider and easier to stand up on, and you use a paddle to propel you across the calm water. it’s a fun, relaxing activity for a chilled summer’s day.

Visit Dorset’s only operational lighthouse open to the public

Portland Bill Lighthouse has been safeguarding the marina on the Isle of Portland for more than 500 years. The lighthouse is striped like a candy cane and stands at 41 metres (135 ft).

At the visitor centre, you can learn all about the lighthouse and its keepers. At the exhilarating “Into The Dark” zone, you will encounter the stormy seas of the English Channel. Then climb the 153 steps to the “lantern room” at the top of the lighthouse and take in the stunning views of the Jurassic Coast.

Watch the sunset aboard a Dorset gin cruise

 

What better way is there to enjoy the Dorset coast than floating along the calm waters of Poole Harbour while sipping on a G&T and nibbling a delicious canapé?

Hop aboard Dorset Cruise’s 1938 vintage motor yacht for a three-hour trip around Poole Harbour. You’ll catch a glimpse of Brownsea Island, home of the red squirrels, and get to watch as the sun sets over the harbour. VIP guests will be given a bottle of artisan gin to share with their table along with 12 mixers from Double Dutch and some tasty canapés.

 

Visit the Great Apes at Monkey World

 

If, like me, you have spent some of the lockdown watching daytime TV, you may have come across Monkey Life: the documentary series that follows the rescue and rehabilitation of abused primates who live at Monkey World.

Located near the historic market town of Wareham, just a 20-minute drive to the Jurassic Coast, Monkey World is home to over 250 primates, most of whom were rescued from dire circumstances, either abused as pets or used to entertain tourists having been poached from the wild.

The rehabilitation centre houses chimpanzees, orang-utans (my personal favourites), gibbons and smaller species of monkeys such as marmosets, lemurs and spider monkeys in large enclosures. It’s a joyous place to walk around and a great learning experience for both kids and adults. 

I highly recommend you also visit The Tank Museum in Bovington, a four-minute drive down the road, which exhibits almost 300 vehicles including WW1 and WW2 combat tanks.

 

Channel your inner ape at Moors Valley
This treetop adventure course at Go Ape in Moors Valley has a high ropes adventure course with obstacles that are up to 11 metres (more than 35ft) from the ground. Zip wires and Tarzan swings offer top notch adrenaline-pumping fun.

There is also an easy course for younger children. If you’re not so keen on heights, Moors Valley is packed full of hiking and cycling trails to keep you grounded while your nearest and dearest fling themselves through the trees.

Explore Dorset by bicycle

Dorset has some excellent cycle routes that will take you on a journey along Dorset’s dazzling coastline, past ancient castles and through vast, wild moors. One of my favourite routes is to cycle to Sandbanks and cross over on the ferry (it costs just £1) to Studland.

Take some time to cycle around this beautiful coastal area, or if you’re feeling brave climb the epic, rolling hills that lead to Corfe Castle (just under 7 miles one way) and enjoy a well-deserved cuppa or a pint of cider at one of the local pubs or cafés.

If you have a mountain bike or hybrid, then I highly recommend a trip to Wareham Forest. Located by the Moredon Bog National Nature Reserve, one of the largest valley mire habitats in England, Wareham Forest contains numerous signposted trails for both cyclists and walkers. On a sunny day, you may feel like you are cycling through the mountain ranges of Italy or San Francisco Peaks.

Discover Dorset’s fabulous festivals

Dorset hosts an eclectic mix of festivals throughout the year including the Wimborne Folk Festival (particularly if you like Morris dancers – they slightly terrify me), Teddy Rocks Music Festival (read my festival review here) and the Nyetimber Dorset Seafood Festival in Weymouth, which will be taking place on the 11 and 12 September this year.

Also check out Dorset Knob Throwing Festival. The website describes the knob as a “hard biscuit which makes a fine missile for competitive hurling” (just in case you were wondering).

For more information and recommendations on activities along Dorset’s coastline visit England’s Coast.

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