Picture yourself dining al fresco, a glass of locally-brewed bubbly in hand, rolling hills as the backdrop, and we'd bet you're thinking of a winery in France, or the Tuscan countryside. Perhaps as far afield as the sprawling wine regions of South Africa, or sun-dappled Napa Valley in California.
But ask the same question in a few years from now and we’d argue that the English countryside will be up there on your list. The UK wine industry is booming, with around 3 million vines planted this year, equating to an huge 690 extra hectares of vineyards according to Wines of Great Britain. It’s no wonder the UK has gained the reputation as the fastest-growing wine region in the world.
“Last year we set out our vision that in the next 20 years, at the rate of current growth, we could be producing some 40 million bottles per year. We are certainly heading towards that,” said Simon Robinson, chairman of WineGB.
It’s been a particularly fruitful time for English sparkling wine. “Global warming has enabled riper fruit in England. We now have the average growing temperatures that Champagne had some 30 years ago,” Giorgio Parrino, a tour guide at Bolney Wine Estate told us. “The next decade will see the UK, and in particular the south of England, become the leading destination for sparkling wine.”
Even Tatler agrees that English sparkling wine ‘all the rage’, writing, ‘British sparkling wine is now a prominent fixture at the finest of al fresco spring suppers and it makes for the most refreshing of aperitifs to enjoy in a shapely flute – possibly enhanced with a drop of crème de cassis.’
While southern regions like Sussex, Essex and Suffolk play home to most – thanks to their warmer climate – vineyards in the north aren’t unheard of, with wine estates like Holmfirth and Yorkshire Heart gaining more and more attention for their delicious produce.
With English Wine Week underway, these are the most beautiful UK vineyards across the country:
The beautiful Bolney Wine Estate is a feast for the eyes, as well as the tastebuds. Enjoy a tour of the estate, with wine and cheese tasting finishing the experience, for just £20.
Where to stay near Bolney Wine Estate
Ockendon Manor & Spa offers a stunning spa and delicious food in their sumptuous dining room. We’d recommend the 8-course tasting menu, with accompanying local wines of course.
Northern vineyards are the ones to watch, and with a backdrop this beautiful, we can see why! Guided tours run in the morning and afternoon and last up to an hour and a half. Explore the vast vineyards, learning about the vines and production process.
Where to stay near Holmfirth Vineyard
Holdsworth House Hotel, which found some fame from its appearance in Last Tango In Halifax, will help you to appreciate the simple things, like long walks in the rolling hills and a glass of wine sat by a roaring fire. Full of character, and situated in an ideal spot among the Yorkshire Moors, this cosy hotel is the perfect base for exploring.
Denbies Vineyard was planted in 1986, and since then has become one of the largest wine producers in the UK. Not only does it offer a stunning vineyard, but also the Gallery Restaurant where you can enjoy fine dining alongside your wine of choice.
Where to stay near Denbies Wine Estate
Denbies Vineyard offers some great on-site accommodation options, like their quaint Farm House B&B.
A recent winner in the prestigious Decanter Wine Awards for its sparkling offering, Chapel Down is perhaps the most well-known vineyard in the UK – and with good reason. Top notch wines and epic views ensure a good time will be had by all.
Where to stay near Chaple Down Winery
Little Dane Court is an affordable B&B with rave reviews. Situated on a pretty street in the rural Weald of Kent, it’s the perfect spot for exploring stunning gardens, vineyards and villages untouched by modern life. They don’t call Kent an area of outstanding beauty for no reason!
Another vineyard putting Yorkshire on the map, this quaint location is worth the the trip to Monkton, York. Producing its first wine in 2005, and has come a long way since then, now with 10 acres of land growing 17,000 vines.
Where to stay near Yorkshire Heart Vineyard
Skipbridge Farm Cottages are located between York and Harrogate and offer a warm welcome to guests.