For anyone just discovering British wine, it might come as a surprise to find out how many wineries there are in the UK. Of the incredible 180 vineyards — incredible because up until recently it was thought that the UK couldn’t make decent wine due to its climate — there are many with fantastic views. The nature of the landscape needed for a good vineyard affords some of the most beautiful views of rolling hills and stunning scenery, and the UK has that in abundance. The British countryside is a place of wildflower meadows, rocky coastlines, lakes, hills, woodland, and simple green land. What better way to enjoy the views than with a glass of wine in your hand and a tour of a winery awaiting you? You can discover some excellent wines while taking in the scenery from viewpoints you wouldn’t otherwise find.
1. Gusbourne, Kent
With glorious views over the stunning Kent countryside, Gusbourne is one of the UK’s most successful English wine producers, receiving acclaim for its award-winning sparkling wines and exceptional visitor experience. Founded in 2004, Gusbourne produces a range of sparkling and still wines from grapes grown at its vineyards in Kent and West Sussex. Its sparkling wines are well known, but it is also growing its reputation for great still wines and is soon to launch its first 100 percent Pinot Meunier. Take a tour and try a glass or two, or simply sit back and enjoy the views. Beyond the rows and rows of leafy grapevines, the English Kent countryside rolls out. In summertime, it’s a peaceful and beautiful place to be, but even when the mist rolls over and the clouds gather, it’s pretty incredible and gives you a whole new brooding view of the area.
Throughout the summer, from April to September, Gusbourne is hosting a Michelin-starred chef series with various pubs and restaurants, including The Hand & Flowers, Trinity, The Fordwich Arms, and Restaurant Story.
2. Nyetimber, West Sussex
The vineyards at Nyetimber Estate overlook the South Downs in Sussex, giving visitors a really stunning view of this most picturesque area of England. Nyetimber is a historic place, as the main building here was mentioned in the Doomsday Book and has welcomed Henry VIII amongst other famous guests. The winery runs limited open days, so you need to book a ticket ahead of time as it does sell out pretty quickly. This isn’t the kind of vineyard where you can just turn up and have a wander around; it’s a little more private and focuses on producing great wine, but they do offer a range of experiences including special dinners where you can pair their wine with the right dishes. They also attend festivals with the Nyetimber wine bus, a quirky minibus turned into a wine stall. If you get the chance to visit on an open day, the views from the winery are simply breathtaking. The vines meander down the slightest of hills, revealing the South Downs in all its English garden splendor and beyond.
3. Bolney Wine Estate, Haywards Heath
The Bolney Wine Estate is located 14 miles from the South Coast of England and, as such, has the sea in its air. The location offers outstanding views across the South Downs, which you can experience on a tour and tasting. The vineyard is one of the UK’s oldest and has now been in operation for 50 years. There’s a celebratory atmosphere this year, especially, but the views are amazing no matter when you visit. As you enjoy a glass or two and gaze out over the gentle hills, you can catch a hint of the sea. Bolney offers a selection of tours and tastings that you can book onto, or guests are welcome to roam freely amongst the vines and even stop for a picnic purchased from the café or vineyard shop. The Eighteen Acre Café has a picturesque balcony overlooking the ripening vines, which is such a lovely location to dine and enjoy the wine.
4. Sandridge Barton, Devon
Formerly Sharpham Wines, Sandridge Barton Wines will open the doors to its new visitor center, winery, and restaurant in June 2022. This makes it an all new experience I can’t wait to try out. I’ve tried Sharpham wines before, so I know it’s going to be good, and we’re assured that the wines are still very much available. Located in South Devon, the new destination will host a range of visitor experiences including both guided and self-guided tastings. Devon is a stunning part of England and the views from the winery are typical of this picturesque county. The winery sits by the banks of the River Dart, providing views of the gentle water and the hills and fields beyond. This is a really special winery, with unique views of the fields and hills and the gently flowing river.
The Sandridge Barton estate also has holiday accommodation. In the Main House, which is located close to the vineyard and overlooks the River Dart, there are six bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool. The newly renovated Farmhouse at Lower Well Farm has four bedrooms located by the winery and visitor center. The Boathouse has two bedrooms and is located in total seclusion on the bank of the Dart. All guests will have the opportunity to experience the offerings of the visitor center once it opens.
5. Hencote, Shrewsbury
The name Hencote is a medieval word meaning “high on the hill,” giving you an idea of the kind of landscape this winery is found within. You can take a guided tour of the vineyards, dine in the restaurant, taste some wines in the bar, or try them as cocktails at the cocktail bar, and even stay over for the night. And all of this comes with the most incredible views. The sloping land of this vineyard gives you views of the ancient wet woodlands, which you can take a stroll through. See hay bails sleeping in the farmer’s fields nearby, and pick out the church spire of Shrewsbury market town poking through the trees and rising up into the sky. You won’t find a more English view to gaze at while you sip some wines.
Enjoy the view with a glass of Hencote’s Evolution Sparkling. It is the perfect wine to sip on the terrace at Hencote soaking in the wonderful view. The Evolution Sparkling results from the natural progression through fermentation in bottle, capturing the flavors of Hencote’s harvest that have come to define its Estate Sparkling Wine. Using innovative techniques and a shortened maturation period, a second fermentation was carried out immediately following the primary fermentation to capture a vibrant freshness and fruitiness. The wine was then aged for an additional 3 months to develop and mature the established flavors.
6. Woodchester Valley, The Cotswolds
Woodchester Valley is one of the UK’s newer wineries, established in 2016, though experiments in growing vines in the land here had started long before that. You can take a tour to learn more about the site and how the wine is made, or book one of the innovative “fizz and chips” evenings. From the vines, the land is a gentle meander downhill and it feels as if you are easing your way into the valley below. Beyond, you can view the hills and fields that rise and fall in a lazy lean. It’s such a peaceful place to be, and sitting back and enjoying the views with a glass or two of Woodchester’s wine is the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon visit.
Make sure you try the Reserve Cuvée. It’s perfect for sipping while gazing at a beautiful view. This is a classic method English sparkling wine, with 24 months lees aging. It has a fine mouse, delicate flavors, and a lingering finish.
7. Rathfinney, Sussex
Located on a south-facing slope, Rathfinney winery is set amongst fields and hills that seem to stretch out as long as the day. The patchwork of the landscape is like a quilt made up of the green rows of vines set right next to farmers’ crops and green open spaces. What started as 50 acres in 2012 is now 230 acres, the wine has been so successful. Only 3 miles from the coast, the land here has the perfect soil for grapevines, and, coupled with the mild climate, it’s an ideal location for a winery. As you stand on the gentle slopes of the vineyards, the sea sparkles in the distance and you can feel the magic of the landscape here. It’s a beautiful place for a winery, and you can spend all day here, in the tasting room, in the restaurant, and in the bar trying out a few wines.
If you don’t want to leave, and you probably won’t, at the western end of the vineyard are the Flint Barns, where you can stay the night. You’ll get the most incredible views from these converted barns and you can wake up to the vines rustling right by your window.
To get the most out of a trip to the UK, check out these stories: