8 Vineyards and Wineries to visit in Winter
Here at Wine Cellar Door, it’s fair to say we’re pretty crazy about visiting vineyards and wineries as often as we can. And while the summer might seem the obvious time of year for vinous adventures, there are plenty of places open in the winter too. In fact, our directory lists more than 80 vineyards that are open all year round.
If it’s too cold and wet to explore far on foot, you can often choose to just look at the vines from a distance while keeping warm in a cosy tasting room. Many offer good food (hearty, warming soup anyone?) and of course at this time of year the chance to taste and choose some wines for the festive table or as gifts is an added attraction.
Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall is not far off the A30 between Bodmin and Padstow and, as the name suggests, is close to the River Camel. They’ve built an enviable reputation for producing world class sparkling wine, as well as still wines. No trip to a holiday cottage in Cornwall is complete without picking up a few bottles here along the way, or you can even stay at one of the two cottages that overlook the vineyard itself.
Clayhill Vineyard on the north bank of the River Crouch in Essex is one of many in this part of the country gaining increasing renown for quality still wines, although fizz is produced here too. Clayhill’s new tea room offers excellent lunches and cakes, as well as superb views across the Crouch from its upstairs viewing gallery. Free tastings are usually held on the last Sunday of the month.
Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey is one of the country’s most visited wineries, partly due to the fact that it has been established so long and partly because it is one of the largest, too. With a self-service café adjacent to the well-stocked gift shop, as well as a fine-dining restaurant and a variety of tours, there is something of interest for all ages. In the last few years, high quality winemakers have been on the scene and the Noble Harvest dessert wine is one of our favourites.
Furleigh Estate in Dorset is between Beaminster and Bridport, not far from Charmouth and Lyme Regis, all great places to visit. Its proximity to the Jurassic Coast influences the names of several of the wines. They are a respected producer of still and sparkling wines and only less well known than they might otherwise be further afield because so much of the wine is sold locally.
Mannings Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate near Horsham in West Sussex used to be a golf club with two 18 hole courses, and now has just one 18 hole course, a 9 hole and a vineyard! While it will take a little while for their vines to produce wine, there is an excellent restaurant and the opportunity to try wines from their sister vineyard in South Africa, including wine tasting events pairing the wines with cheese or chocolate.
Oxney Organic Estate near Rye, on the Sussex / Kent border is one of several organic vineyards. The main wine is a sparkling white made using the traditional champagne grape varieties and, as usual in UK, the same production methods. Tours run on specified weekends and can include platters of local charcuterie and cheeses if pre-booked. There is also accommodation available in delightful converted barns and even two shepherd’s huts which opened earlier this year.
Rathfinny Estate in East Sussex promises to be one of the most exciting new producers of sparkling wine, with their first fizz due for release in 2018. They already produce a still wine and their cellar door shop in the charming village of Alfriston is a great source of up-market wine related gifts including their very own Seven Sisters gin. Check out the lovely Flint Barns too, their restored barn accommodation located in the middle of the vineyards.
Winbirri Vineyards in Norfolk won a huge international award in 2017 for the quality and value of their Bacchus, an aromatic still white wine rapidly becoming the most respected of our local grape varieties. While they only do group tours for a minimum of 10 people at the moment, it’s expected that regular guided tours that individuals can join will be introduced in 2018. Meanwhile, Winbirri wines may be purchased from the cellar door.
These are all working vineyards, so do check their opening hours before visiting. Many also sell wine and gifts online, including vineyard experiences, rent-a-vine and membership schemes. To find out more, we would love you to sign up to our mailing list for information on new openings, regular competitions to win tours and tastings and lots, lots more.
This blog post was written by us for Wine Gift Centre and originally published on their website on 9th November 2017.
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