What better place than the Garden of England to discover the vineyards that produce some of our best and award-winning wines, beers and ciders? The rolling countryside of Kent and Sussex is bursting with orchards full of plump rosy apples, vineyards packed with grapes just waiting to be picked and dusty fields full of hops ready to be turned into thirst-quenching beers. With a geology and climate perfect for making wonderful sparkling wines and light fruity still wines, we invite you to take a tour of some of our best vineyards and wineries - just make space in your boot to take a few boxes home with you!
The pretty village of Biddenden is well known for its impressive local vineyard. Established in 1969, it is Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard and is a must-see on your tour. Its award-winning wines are grown on 23 acres of south facing slopes, perfect conditions for growing grapes. You can take a tour around the vineyard or stroll about at your leisure and tastings are welcomed. Take a step back in time as you meet the old cider press but don’t be fooled – the bottling line is fully modern and automated so that they can meet demand for their lovely drinks! Eleven varieties of grape are grown here for wines including red, white, rose and sparkling, all pressed and bottled on site. Afterwards, you must pop into the shop to take home some goodies – there are not only wines and beers, but also a great selection of juices and other local produce such as Gribble Bridge meats, jams and chutneys. The famous Biddenden Cider is also made here but beware – it’s a strong one!
Another award-winning passionate producer of sparkling wines, some of which were reputedly served at the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, this winery has the largest grape press in the UK and also produces a great range of ciders and beers. You can stroll around the vineyards at your own pace or hop on to a guided tour to witness the traditional methods used during the production of their sparkling wines. Don’t miss the pretty herb garden where you can stop to sample some of the wines and then finish your day back at the Wine and Fine Food Store for a well-deserved tasting and a browse of other local produce. Chapel Down make the interestingly named Curious Beers and Ciders including Curious Brew and Curious Apple. It also has a Vine Leasing scheme – a great gift where you can help to harvest your own wine which comes with its own custom label!
This estate not only counts on an amazing micro-climate which presides over 40 acres of vines, it is also hidden away in the midst of a 400-acre mixture of meadows, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands. You can while away the hours strolling around the grounds or if you prefer something more structured, you can book a guided tour. For the more spontaneous, just pitch up for a wine tasting during opening hours where you can sample the delicious British sparkling and still wines and ciders. Many of the wines are named after the children of the family who own Hush Heath, such as Skye’s English Chardonnay and Luke’s Tree Pure Russet Apple Juice. Home of the award-winning Balfour Brut Rose, you won’t want to miss this family-run affair.
Owned by the Carr Taylor family, this vineyard produces quality still and sparkling wines on their 37 acre farm. The award-winning wines are known for their distinctive English character; described as crisp and aromatic with delicate citrus, apple and pear notes. Carr Taylor was the first commercial vineyard to produce sparkling wines using the traditional method – a second fermentation in the bottle, comparible to Champagne. Their Vintage Sparkling Wine received the gold medal at the Concours European des Grands Vins, beating 1800 Champagnes – not bad for what was originally a sideline on their farm! Pop along for a self-guided tour or book a guided tour – either way you will have a wonderful time! There are free wine tastings and a shop where you can stock up on a selection of wines to take home.
This award-winning vineyard and winery makes lovely still and sparkling wines and is part of an 850-acre organic farming estate. Pop along for a guided tour of the estate where you can hear about the way they make their wine – described as having a very low intervention, natural winemaking ethos. There is a shop where you can buy the award-winning dry and fruity sparkling Classic 2014 and the highly recommended English Pinot Noir Rose 2016 which has hints of summer fruits including strawberry, raspberry and cherry.
Known as the home of biodynamic wine, this pioneering set of three organic vineyards is nestled in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside. With over 20 acres of land in the High Weald AONB, it also offers a trail through magical ancient woodland which you can explore at your leisure. Established in 1979 and England’s oldest organic vineyard, you can take a self-guided tour and learn about the processes used to make biodynamic wine. For those not in the know, this means that it is a wine produced from fruit grown and processed without using any synthetic fertilisers, herbicides or systemic disease control sprays and it is certified under the Demeter accreditation system. The friendly knowledgeable staff will be happy to elaborate on any of the winery’s processes! After your tour, visit the Winery and the Sedlescombe barn tasting bar where you can sample some of the award-winning wines, including traditional full-bodied reds and fresh fragrant whites as well as lighter roses and sparkling wines. The Vineyard shop offers local crafts, wines, juices and various other local produce to take home with you. Pack a picnic or if you prefer, book a tasty Ploughman’s Lunch or Cream Tea before you go. The wines at Sedlescombe are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Based in Appledore, Kent, Gusbourne supplies wines for leading restaurants such as The Fat Duck and Le Gavroche and are stocked in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason to name a few. Hosted tours take place in the beautiful vineyards, the winery, and end in the luxurious tasting room where guests can sample the whole range of wines (plus a few exclusives). Of course you don’t need to take a tour to experience the wines. The tasting room is open for drop-in visitors, and wines are available to taste and to purchase by the glass, bottle or case.
Want to get a bit more involved? Learn the basics of how to care for vines and then make wine, at this friendly vineyard close to the pretty villages of Goudhurst and Lamberhurst. Best of all, you will then have the chance to taste what you have made! This hidden vineyard has been lovingly recreated since it was founded in 2009 and through their Cheery Days Wine Events, you too can become a part of their story. Try their first wine, Rampant Horse, named after the fine specimen on the flag of Kent. As it is only a little working vineyard, visits are limited so you will need to check opening hours beforehand.
A family enterprise which combines traditional farming values with a modern environmentally friendly ethos, this vineyard has the perfect geology and microclimate to produce great wines. They have chosen champagne grape varieties and rootstocks which suit the British terrain and climate. Though one of Kent’s newest vineyards, they are one to watch. You can buy wines directly from the farm and take a tour or tutored wine tasting from the friendly staff. It is near to the cathedral city of Canterbury so is the perfect place to spend an afternoon before popping to this vibrant city for an evening of culture and fine dining.