Summer is upon us, but the likelihood of getting abroad for a holiday is still up in the air. With that in mind, we partnered with Antler luggage to bring you our top vineyard recommendations to visit and stay at in the UK. The English wine industry is going from strength to strength, and these 5 vineyards and wineries are our favourite places to visit, discover wine and relax...
Top 5 Vineyards in the UK
Oxney Organic Estate
Hobbs Lane, Beckley, Rye, TN31 6TU
Though Oxney Organic Estate is a newcomer on the English wine scene, it's the largest single estate organic vineyard in the country. Kristin Syltevik and winemaker Ben Smith purchased their farm in the heart of the High Weald AONB, East Sussex, in 2009 and planted their first vines in 2012. Quite rightly, Oxney has quickly gained a reputation as a highly respected name in the English wine industry. The quaint Jacobean Vineyard House (sleeping up to eight) is booked out until September, but don't sleep (pun intended) on a stay at one of the estate’s two self-catering shepherd’s huts. Nestled on the edges of one of the vineyards, they’re ideal for a short getaway. While you’re there, be sure to try the Oxney Organic Rosé - England’s best rosé in Josh’s opinion.
Just down the road from Oxney is Tillingham. Here at Wine List HQ, we're huge Tillingham fans. Their wines look impossibly cool - and deliver on taste too. The farm at Tillingham dates back to the 13th century, and winemaker Ben Walgate is an advocate of combining innovations in science and technology with ancient winemaking traditions. Visit for the artistic attention to details (think empty Tillingham bottles as candleholders and vases), and stay for the vineyard's restaurant and pizzeria. Rooms at the beautifully-decorated farmstead are in short supply until September, but fear not - two Bell Tents have been added to the grounds for this summer. Complete with a king-sized bed, wood burning stove and spectacular views of the rolling hills surrounding the vineyard, you’re in for a treat. We’ve been drinking Tillingham’s pinot noir in the Wine List office recently, but their Qvevri White is another firm favourite of ours.
Husband and wife, Mark and Sarah Driver, are the duo behind the stunning Rathfinny Wine Estate. Their mission is to create some of the best English sparkling wine. We've been enjoying their 2016 vintage Blanc de Blancs recently and our head of wine, Isabelle, highly recommends this delicious and serious sparkling wine. The Drivers are guided by a wisdom that dates back to the Roman times - that the best location for a vineyard is three miles from the sea. And the vineyard’s south-facing slope on the chalky South Downs in Sussex is exactly that. Book a stay at the Flint Barns for a peaceful retreat away from busy life in one of the airy yet cosy rooms. No trip to Rathfinny is complete without a meal at the Tasting Room Restaurant, however, where the estate’s Head Chef, Chris Bailey, oversees a changing menu of quintessential British cuisine with a contemporary twist.
If you’re after something a little bit different, head to Black Chalk vineyards in Hampshire. Stay at one of the treehouses at the neighbouring Wild Escapes, and book a private tasting from the comfort of your tree. Like Rathfinny, Black Chalk make some of the best English sparkling wines. Jacob Leadley launched Black Chalk with his brother-in-law, Andrew Seden, in 2018 after training as a winemaker in 2009 and working at nearby Hattingley Valley. Though Black Chalk is relatively new in the winemaking game, their Classic 2016 has earned ‘more gold medals from reputable places than you can shake a stick at’ - as Josh recently wrote in the Wine List newsletter. The treehouses at Wild Escapes are stylish examples of combining Scandi-style with nature. Take a dip in an outdoors bathtub with a glass of sparkling English and soak up the beautiful surrounding woodland.
Though not technically a vineyard, Blackbook urban winery is located in a railway arch in Battersea. Winemaker Sergio runs the winery with his wife, Lynsey, where they host tours and tasting sessions on most Saturdays. Though their winery is quite small in size, their wines are some of the most exciting to come out of England. Grapes are sourced from a handful of vineyards outside of London - including Essex for pinot noir and chardonnay, and Oxfordshire for seyval blanc. We're often talking about Blackbook's wines and their playful labels on our YouTube channel, and recommend you try their Pygmalion chardonnay. If a little fizz is more your thing, grab a bottle of the GMF pet-nat and head to nearby Clapham Common. Looking for somewhere to stay? Book a room at the boutique Windmill Hotel over the way. Rest up in one of their kitsch-cum-industrial rooms at this boutique hotel, before heading to the restaurant for a cosy evening meal.