Five of the best vineyards in the UK (and which of their wines to drink)
From fruity fizz to full-bodied reds, man world-beating wines are made right here on British soil. And if you can't visit the wineries right now, be sure to track down a bottle online instead
Move over France and watch out California – some of the best wine in the world is now being made on our doorstep right here in the UK. Often offering tours and tastings, many British vineyards and wineries are set in idyllic countryside and historic locations, making them ideal places to spend a leisurely afternoon. Here are five worthy of your attention – and your palate.
Beautiful Jenkyn Place vineyard in Hampshire © Jenkyn Place/Sam Moore
Jenkyn Place, Bentley, Hampshire
South-east England has seen a boom in wine production over the past ten years, with winemakers taking advantage of soils that bear a strong resemblance to those found in the Champagne region of France. Jenkyn Place is one of them. In 2004, this hop farm was transformed into a vineyard, and its 12 acres of greensand soil on sheltered, chalky, south-facing slopes are perfect for producing some of the best-quality English sparkling wines.
MUST TRY Blanc de Blancs Brut 2015. Made with 100% Chardonnay, it’s a fresh but complex fizz with notes of lemon and rich Victoria plum.
Get a taste of the vino at Trevibban Mill in Cornwall © Trevibban Mill
Trevibban Mill, Padstow, Cornwall
Just outside the food-lover’s mecca of Padstow, on the north Cornish coast, is Trevibban Mill, a working vineyard and organic orchard that produces both fine wines and cider. Unusually for England, it doesn’t just make white wines and fizz, but excellent reds and natural wines too. They can all be sampled as part of a tour or at the winery bar, which spills out on to a patio surrounded by wildflowers.
MUST TRY Orion, an organic skin-fermented ‘orange’ wine. Both dry and fruity, it has notes of dried apricots and orange peel.
The sweeping, verdant vineyards at Chapel Down © Chapel Down
Chapel Down, Tenterden, Kent
One of the biggest winemakers in England, Chapel Down is also one of the best. Its sparkling wine is said to have been served at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, and it is the official supplier to No 10 Downing Street. Its vineyard is open to the public, offering tours, tastings and dinner - should one want it - at on-site Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant The Swan.
MUST TRY Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Couer de Cuvée 2014 received several accolades last year, including Best Prestige Cuvée at the WineGB Awards and Best in the Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
A bottle of London Cru's delicious Baker St Bacchus © London Cru
London Cru, London
The UK capital isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think about winemaking, but London Cru in Fulham does exactly that. In an old Victorian warehouse that once was a gin distillery, you’ll find the precision winemaking facilities you’d associate with any state-of-the-art winery. Taking grapes from numerous English vineyards, London Cru creates award-winning, quintessentially London wines.
MUST TRY London Cru Baker Street 2018, which is made using Bacchus grapes from Sandhurst in Kent and Great Whitmans in Essex. It won an IWC Silver Medal for its distinctively English apple and elderflower flavour.
Barrels of fun: white wine fermenting at Ancre Hill © Ancre Hill Estates
Ancre Hill Estates, Monmouthshire, Wales
Again, Wales might not fit the stereotype of winemaking country, yet there are fine wines to be found here. Ancre Hill Estates in Monmouthshire uses biodynamic and organic principles to grow its fruit and makes no external interventions or manipulations in the winemaking process. The result is top-quality wines that have bagged shelf space at Fortnum & Mason, no less.
MUST TRY Triomphe Pet Nat, a light, very dry wine. Short for pétillant naturel, it’s slightly fizzy and made in a more rustic, but still delicious, style.