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Vineyards and England were once an unlikely pairing, but these days the country’s many wineries jostle regularly for the top spot on the international stage. Culture Trip rounds up the best.
Family-run Camel Valley has been harvesting still and sparkling wines in Cornwall since 1989. Based near the region’s Camel River, the soil and climate have yielded award-winning wines; over the last decade, the vineyard has scooped up numerous international prizes, including trophies and gold medals from both the International Wine Challenge and Decanter. In 2014, its winemaker Sam Lindo made history as the first outside of Champagne to be nominated for Best International Sparkling Winemaker of the Year. Daily tours run during the week – though not at weekends – with tasting sessions and wines to be enjoyed by the glass on-site. Camel Valley also owns two cottages in its picturesque setting for public rental.
In the South Downs of Sussex on a 600-acre (240ha) south-facing slope, Rathfinny Estate is an award-winning, state-of-the-art winery producing over one million bottles of Sussex sparkling wine each year. With the goal of cementing Sussex as the go-to UK destination for sparkling wine, the estate plans to become “one of the most significant single vineyards in England” and among the largest in Europe. Enjoy tours and tastings throughout the week.
Close to the market town of Tenterden in the Kent countryside, Chapel Down Winery is a beautiful estate which welcomes visitors throughout the year. This winery is renowned for its world-class sparkling wines – and, yes, they vary in price, meaning some are more accessible than others. Enjoy its wines at the on-site Michelin Bib Gourmand-rated restaurant.
Another South Downs-based vineyard, Ridgeview, in the village of Ditchling, has also earned award-winning status – coming away from the 2018 International Wine & Spirit Competition with the coveted Winemaker of the Year award. This winery is loved for its sparkling wine, which can be sampled at pre-booked tastings.
Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire is England’s largest and oldest vineyard. Its first vines were planted in 1973, and it has since grown from half an acre to 75 acres (30ha), with eights rooms and three lodges on the grounds and daily grape-to-glass experiences on its wine tasting tours.