Sunday, 29 May 2016

England's Best Vineyard Tours

Camel Valley.
England and the rest of the UK are famed for having a rich history and some of the most famous cultural landmarks on the planet. However, when you think of beautiful vineyards your mind tends to wander towards the rolling hills of New Zealand, the stunning Chateaux of France or the beautiful riverside hills of Portugal. Rarely, however, does it occur that England may offer us some impressive, bewitching and functional vineyard vistas that can rival those of the countries named above.

Having been on a number of vineyards across the country and it being English Wine Week after all I thought it right to celebrate the beauty and charm of my homeland wineries. This is not an appraisal of their wines, purely an appreciation of their aesthetics.

Furthermore, from my experiences of English Wineries, most of them agree that they are more than the wine they produce. They cater for all with personalised tours, fine restaurants and sometimes even accommodation for those that want the full vineyard life experience.

Denbies Estate, Surrey.
Craig Denford under CCA

Denbies Winery- Dorking, Surrey

With a vineyard planted in 1986, Denbies has become the largest vineyard in the UK. They are open pretty much all year round and offer indoor, outdoor and group tours. Their indoor tour starts with a 20 minute film in their 360 degree cinema to learn about the geology, history of the estate and its transformation over the years as well as a full fun through of from vine to bottle. You're then escorted through the winery before a tasting in the cellar.

The outside tour is something I have not experienced before. A f***ing train takes you round! A train! Showing you all the stunning panoramic views of the Denbies Estate. Train!

The original farmhouse has been converted into an award-winning B&B catering for everyone with a whole range of things to do including bike hire. Pretty cool eh? It also caters for weddings and a whole host of other events.
Prices available on website.

Camel Valley- Bodmin, Cornwall

With vines planted in 1989, Camel Valley has become one of England's best known and most successful wineries. They not only produce fantastic wines but also personal, enthusiastic and incredibly interesting winery and vineyard tours. There is no snobbery here, just an unrivalled passion for wine and a love of the land and what they do.

They also off two stunning, scenic and comfortable cottages to rent that enjoy beautiful views out over the valley. I have been to the Camel Valley site and it is truly breathtaking. Their wine is gorgeous and has won many IWC awards but it is their location, hospitality and fantastic tours that will always put this winery in my heart.

Picture from Samerset

Three Choirs- Newent, Gloucestershire

For me, this is probably the most impressive vineyard in Britain, visually. Beautiful, sun-kissed rolling hills, perfectly laid out rows and paths with gorgeous trees surrounding it.

It also has a very cute little winery overlooking it all, and it boasts one of the finest vineyard kitchens on the planet that produces tantalising English cuisine.

They're even happy to do that quintessentially English thing...... Have a bloomin' barby! If it is sunny that is.

It also offers hotel rooms and lodges that are not only within touching distance of the vineyard, but also of the plentiful scenery that the Cotswolds has to give.

You may also wish to check out my 'Blast from the past' review of Breaky Bottom in Sussex! Happy English Wine Week everyone and see you all at the London Wine Fair next week!

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