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Cheers! 5 up-and-coming English wine regions worth visiting

Sept. 12, 2021
7 min read
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When one thinks of planning a vacation to a wine region, England is typically not the first country to come to mind. But in fact, England is a real under-the-radar wine spot.

The U.K. is certainly no stranger to rain that might ruin the grapes, but the southern and eastern areas of England, with their warmer, drier climates and diverse soil are ideal for winemaking. And the vintners in these areas are producing world-class wine that can easily rival more established regions such as France, Spain and Italy.

A beautiful Sussex vineyard. (Photo by Gill Copeland/Getty Images)

You might not make it to the rolling hills of Tuscany this year, but you can still get your wine fix with a visit to some of these lovely locations. These up-and-coming wine areas in the U.K. are great for a quick day trip from London or a long weekend either by car or train.

So pack your overnight bag and leave plenty of room for some boozy souvenirs with this round-up of wineries for your very own social distancing tipple tour around England.

Due to social distancing guidelines remember to check each location's website for opening hours and visitor number restrictions.

1. Surrey

Not far from London, Surrey has an array of wineries scattered about the beautiful countryside that offer tastings and tours. If you want to do some winery hopping, the vineyards of the Surrey Hills is the place to start. This scenic area near the North Downs has a cluster of award-winning spots such as Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking.

(Photo courtesy of Denbies Wine Estate)

It's England’s largest vineyard and you can drink wine while on a train tour of the estate for $17. Also worth checking out are High Clandon Vineyard, Albury Organic Vineyard, Chilworth Manor Vineyard and Greyfriars Vineyard for a boozy day you won’t forget.

Where to stay: The Vineyard Hotel was the first vineyard hotel in England. This stylish 17-room property situated in the middle of Denbies Wine Estate offers a breathtaking view of the grounds as well as an elegant restaurant and bar area. Prices start at about $187 a night.

2. East Sussex and West Sussex

Considered to be the “heartland of U.K. wine production", the Sussex counties are home to many innovative wine estates that produce some mighty fine sparkling varieties that have made the rest of the wine world take notice. Pop by Oxney Organic near Beckley, East Sussex, England’s largest organic winery, for a guided tour and lunch that will set you back about $55.

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(Photo courtesy of Oxney Estate)

Or you can stop by one of the pioneers of the industry, Bolney Wine Estate in Bolney, West Sussex, which started winemaking in 1972. Drop in for a quick look around or book the Grand Gourmet Tour that’s a two-and-a-half-hour intensive session with a history of English wine followed by a two-course lunch and a Bolney Estate Gin tasting, too.

Where to stay: Oxney Organic Estate has a few accommodation options including three old barns that have been converted into lovely vacation homes for groups of up to 18 people. Prices are $2,000 for the weekend. For a lovely romantic getaway for two, the Shepherd’s Huts might be a better option with prices starting at $138 per night.

3. Hampshire

Hampshire is home to two fabulous National Parks -- the South Downs and the New Forest. And scattered throughout these splendid areas are where most of the region's wineries are located. Visit Titchfield Vineyard, a small winery near the historic village of Titchfield, where you can personalize your wine label for a bespoke touch. Note that visiting the vineyard is by appointment only and the cost is $14 for a tour and tasting and $17 per person to include a cheese platter.

Also worth a visit is Raimes Vineyard near the village of Cheriton, a small boutique winery on a family farm dedicated to making English sparkling wine. Wine tasting tours are $17 per person.

Where to stay: Peppercorn Cottage is a charming restored “chocolate box” two-bedroom cottage just over a mile away from Raimes Vineyard. This place is equipped with a kitchen and a lovely garden and terrace to pop open one of your newly purchased bottle of wine. Rates start at $1,020 per night.

4. Bedfordshire

In the east of England, there are some of the premier wineries that produce the largest amount of pinot noir in the U.K. Warden Abbey Vineyard in Biggleswade is a community-run winery where the first grapevines were planted by monks at the former Cistercian Warden Abbey during medieval times.

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It aims to "provide social, health and educational benefits for Bedfordshire whilst providing a financially and environmentally sustainable future for this historic vineyard".

You can take a tour or volunteer to help around the winery if you have the time -- but do check visitor opening days.

Where to stay: The Stratton House Hotel is a 17th-century grade II listed building with 30 bedrooms and a large restaurant. It's situated in the heart of Biggleswade and only a half-hour from Luton airport. Rooms start at $107 per night.

5. Suffolk

For those bringing a furry friend along for the ride, Giffords Hall Vineyard near Long Melford is a dog-friendly winery that makes superb rosé, pinot blanc and East Anglican sparkling wine. There is a lovely vineyard shop, too, where you can get wines, of course, and hampers and liqueurs. Tours are $26 per person.

(Photo courtesy of Giffords Hall)

If you’re a history buff, Wyken Vineyards near Bury St Edmunds is an award-winning seven-acre winery where the estate was once occupied by the Romans. You can go and see a flock of Shetland sheep on its farm or shop at its market on Sundays to buy some delicious produce like bread and meats to soak up that wine.

Where to stay: Book a stay at Cabin in the Vines at the Valley Farm Vineyard near Halesworth. This tranquil eco-friendly cabin offers a luxury spot where you can get away from it all. Start with the free bottle of wine as you take yourself on a self-guided tour of the winery. Prices start at $166 per night with a minimum two-night stay.

Read more: The ultimate Suffolk road trip

Bottom line

We all enjoy drinking wine. But instead of popping to your local to pick up your favorite, cut out the middle man and see where it’s all made with a wine trip. The wineries suggested above are easy to reach by car or train. And while you are there, explore the area nearby for an exciting getaway.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.