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For those who are fond of a fruity red or a chilled Chardonnay, the prospect of a vineyard holiday is enticing. Visit a vineyard and learn about the winemaking process, from the field to the bottle. Throw in some sunshine plus the opportunity to sample the goods and you’ve got the makings of an idyllic holiday. But where can you go to experience such a blissful break – Bordeaux? Tuscany? Argentina?
How about Britain? In the UK, there is a thriving wine-making industry, with a slew of southerly vineyards making the most of the clement weather. Take a trip to one of the UK’s very own vineyards and you can enjoy all the perks of a traditional wine-making holiday without having to stray too far from home. What’s more, British vineyards aren’t just a novelty or an ambitious experiment – they’re a bonafide industry, the fruits of which, in many cases, are as crisp and refreshing as those of more prestigious winemaking territories.
So pack your taste buds – prepare to see the UK in an entirely new light.
Vineyard holidays: the best of British
Three Choirs, Gloucestershire
Situated in the Forest of Dean, this tranquil vineyard promises the complete wine-making experience. One of England’s leading single estate vineyards, Three Choirs features a modern winery, vineyard nature trail and gift shop. As you ramble along the nature trail, you’ll spot hedgehog nesting boxes, ponds stocked with fish and waterfowl and woodland creatures of all kinds. Guided tours are held daily at 2:30pm, with visitors given the chance to learn about how the vines are tended and harvested to ensure that the yield is maximised and only the very best grapes make it to the table.
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Adgestone, Isle of Wight
On the Isle of Wight lies one of Britain’s oldest and most elegant vineyards. Situated next to Brading Down, Adgestone comprises ten acres of vineyards that lie on a south-facing slope to maximise exposure to those precious golden rays. A number of award-winning wines have been produced here, with notable connoisseurs including the Queen who sampled Adgestone’s finest as part of a D-Day anniversary dinner. Visitors can tour the vineyard and wine cellars whilst learning about the process, from growing to bottling. Afterwards, homemade scones and cakes can be enjoyed as part of a scrumptious cream tea. Naturally, you’ll also want to take a bottle or two of Adgestone back home with you.
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Ryedale Vineyards, Yorkshire
While most of the UK’s vineyards can be found on the south coast, there are some notable exceptions. Say hello to Britain’s most northerly vineyard. Yorkshire may not seem like the most natural place for growing grapes, but Stuart and Elizabeth Smith have shown that where there’s a will, there’s a way. They’ve been producing award-winning wines here since 2009, with four generations of the family involved with the wine-making process. After touring the vineyard, visitors are treated to a wine tasting in the garden or the farmhouse kitchen on less clement days. Ryedale Vineyards is testament to what can be achieved with hard work and a little ingenuity.
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Camel Valley, Cornwall
One of England’s best vineyards, Camel Valley has been producing award-winning wines since 1989. Situated close to the Camel River, the vineyard could scarcely be better positioned for catching the best of the sunshine. Regarded as the UK’s number one winery, Camel Valley contains all the ingredients for a perfect day out. Wine is available by the glass and half-glass on the terrace, while a well-stocked shop contains a discerning selection of bottles. If you’ve ever dreamed of creating your own wine cellar, a visit to Camel Valley is all the excuse you need for getting it started.
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Glyndwr Vineyard, Wales
Wales’ oldest and largest vineyard, Glyndwr has borne fruit since 1982. 6,000 vines have been lined up on south-east facing slopes in the Vale of Glamorgan, with the vineyard producing two white wines, a rosé, a red and two vintage sparkling wines. Glyndwr’s wines are sold in Waitrose and a number of prestigious hotels throughout Wales as well as showing up at European state banquets and on tables across the UK. Book a vineyard tour and you’ll get to savour the utter tranquility of the Vale of Glamorgan as well as sampling a range of wines in the vineyard barn or on the terrace.
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Image 1 © Dave Catchpole
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