englishwineweekNeed an excuse to carry on celebrating the royal wedding of Wills and Kate? While it’s normally France, Italy, California, even Australia and South Africa, that come to mind when you’re splurging on the right white wine for a special celebration, it’s worth knowing English Wine Week is just around the corner. Saturday 28th May to Sunday 5th June sees free open days, tours and tastings across England. You might be surprised to hear there are around 400 English vineyards producing some 2 million bottles of ‘plonk’ per year. We can all raise our glasses to that! Cheers!

Here’s my guide to the nation’s top 10 vineyards and best traditional self catering places to stay, so you can get a sense of being a true Brit, if only for a few days.

1.Yorkshire – Leventhorpe Vineyard, Woodlesford, Leeds, LS6 8AF.

Open to visitors seven days a week (11am-4.30pm Mon-Sat and 12pm-4pm), this five acre vineyard and winery boasts a string of award winning wines.

Based on the outskirts of Leeds and famous for its white wines, it revives the tradition of wine making in Yorkshire established by the Cistercian monks of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds and the Benedictines of York. It is recommended that you phone the owner in advance, if planning a visit.

Where to stay:

Town End Farm Cottages in Airton, near Skipton, West Yorkshire

Sleeps: 4 people

Located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, this property forms part of a barn conversion dating back to the 1800s and is set on the owners’ working farm, with a selection of local produce and crafts.

2. Surrey – Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6AA. Telephone 01306 734 651

Currently the UK’s largest single vineyard, with 265 acres under vine, this is big even by European standards. Denbies offers a memorable day out, with a ‘train’ tour around the vineyard (in summer months) and tours of the winery. The indoor tour offers a unique 360º circular cinematic film experience followed by a journey through the working winery and then the magnificent cellars for wine tasting. Denbies is simply home to some of the finest sparkling and table wines available.

Where to stay nearby:

Glebe, Cowfold, West Sussex

Sleeps: 9 people

This spacious detached family home is conveniently located in a quiet residential area within the village of Cowfold. The holiday property enjoys a large lawn which overlooks unspoilt countryside.

3. Gloucestershire – Three Choirs Vineyards, Newent, Gloucestershire, GL18 1LS. Telephone 01531 890 223

Lose yourself in this beautiful part of the country! Three Choirs has a 75 acre vineyard, shop (tasting available), restaurant and visitor’s centre. Bacchus and Seyval Blanc are amongst some of its most popular grape varieties. Vineyard trails and lunch packages available.

Where to stay nearby:

Oriel Cottage, Great Malvern

Sleeps: 4 people

This stone-built Victorian holiday cottage, attached to Oriel House, has been renovated and is approached by stone steps. Great Malvern offers theatre and drama festivals, shopping, golf whilst nearby is Upton on Severn is known for its jazz and folk festivals and riverside pubs.

4. Cornwall – Camel Valley Vineyard, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 5LG.

Telephone 01208 77959

Family owned and run, Camel Valley’s father and son winemaking team have scooped many international and national awards for their sparkling and still wines over the last years. The jewel in its crown is the Sparkling ‘Cornwall’ Pinot Noir which won a gold medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2009. Situated in the beautiful Camel Valley, on a popular route for cyclists, Camel Valley is the perfect place to park the bike and enjoy the vineyard’s shop and tastings.

Where to stay nearby:

Tawnawood, Cardinham, Bodmin, Cornwall

Sleeps: 4-6 people

Equidistant from both of Cornwall’s spectacular coastlines and nestling in delightful woodland, this converted barn is set in beautiful landscaped gardens. Peacefully positioned on a private drive, the property has fine views across the valley towards the National Trust’s Lanhydrock House and its formal gardens. Beaches for both the north and south coast are approximately 15 miles away – offer fishing, sailing and surfing for the more adventurous.


5. Cambrideshire – Chilford Hall Vineyard and winery, Linton, Cambridgshire, CB21 4LE. Telephone 01223 895 600

This vineyard dates back to the early 1970’s, with 90 minute tours available each Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays between 4th March and 31st October. The vine varieties grown include Müller-Thurgau, Ortega, Schönburger, Reichensteiner, Siegerrebe, Rondo, Regent, Dornfelder and Pinot Noir. A wine shop and a bistro are also located on site as well.

Where to stay nearby:

The Old Post Office Cottage, Widdington, near Saffron Walden

Sleeps: 4 people

This detached Victorian cottage is ideally located in the centre of a pretty village, in a great walking and cycling area. Saffron Walden is one of England’s finest towns, packed with half-timbered medieval buildings, galleries, a twice weekly market and medieval maze. The property is also well situated for exploring Cambridgeshire.


6. Nottinghamshire – Elgantine Vineyard, Loughborough, LE12 6UX.

Telephone 01509 85 23 86
Located in Nottinghamshire (despite having a Leicestershire postcode), the Eglantine Vineyard was first planted in 1979 on south facing slopes in the parish of Costock, at a time when English vineyards were entering a period of significant expansion. The winery stocks a variety of sweet, sparkling and dry white wines, rose, red wine and a cherry wine. The vineyard is a shining example of how feasible it is to grow and harvest grapes successfully in the East Midlands.

Where to stay nearby:

Dovecote Cottage, nr. Worksop

Sleeps: 4 people

This attractive Grade II listed Dovecote adjoins the owner’s home in the pretty hamlet of Steetley. Sherwood Forest, the Dukeries, Clumber Park, Creswell Crags, Hodstock Priory, Bolsover Castle, Meadowhall shopping complex and The Peak District are all within a 20 mile radius.


7. Sussex – Highdown Vineyard, Ferring, West Sussex, BN12 6PG.

Telephone 01903 500 663

A lovely spot to visit on the North Downs, it is located between Littlehampton and Worthing. It is known for its six grape varieties – Rondo, Dornfelder, Pinot Noir, Bacchus, Schönberger and Reichensteiner. This vineyard also boasts a purpose built centre and winery, with a well-stocked shop selling Highdown’s own range of still wines and those from the region, along with gifts and fruit liqueurs. Tours and tastings are available by prior arrangement.

Where to stay nearby:

Sapperton, Peaslake, near Guildford, Surrey

Sleeps: 4 people

Beautifully located in a prestigious gated setting within the grounds of the owner’s home, this comfortable detached holiday cottage is an ideal retreat for exploring the area, and perfect for keen walkers, with direct access to an abundance of walks, cycleways and bridle paths. The quaint hamlet of Peaslake is nestled in the heart of the stunning Surrey Hills and only a short distance to vineyards such as Highdown and Denbies.


8. Berkshire – Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Twyford, Berkshire, RG10 0BN. Telephone 0118 934 0176

Based just outside Twyford near Reading, this lovely estate welcomes visitors to their shop and tasting area. The vineyard specialises in grape varieties such as Gamay, Ortega, Wurzer and the classic Champagne varieties – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A well-stocked cellar shop serves Stanlake’s award winning wines, fruit wines, wines from around the world and delightful locally produced goods and gifts.

Where to stay nearby:

Greenhill Apartment, Hampstead, London

Sleeps: 2-3 people

This holiday apartment is located on the first floor (access by stairs and lift) of a beautiful Art Deco mansion block, set in its own communal gardens. Hampstead is one of the most desirable parts of London, retaining a village atmosphere with pubs, restaurants and exclusive boutiques all within walking distance. It is also known for its beautiful Heath offering morning strolls and magnificent views over the city skyline.


9. Yorkshire – Holmfirth Vineyard, Woodhouse Farm, Holmbridge, HD9 2QR

Telehone 0113 815 5588

Another shining example of one of the many vineyards available to visit in the north of England. Located in the picturesque village of Holmfirth where BBC’s Last of the Summer Wine was filmed, this stunning seven acre vineyard is situated at Woodhouse Farm and contains 7,000 vines. It specialises in three red grape varieties (Rondo, Regent and Acolon) and two white varieties (Ortega and Solaris).

Where to stay nearby:

Pellcot, Wooldale, near Holmfirth

Sleeps: 2 people

Set within a conservation area, this compact and cosy Grade II listed detached cottage built in the 17th century offers a stunning location to visit the nearby Holmfirth Vineyard. Wooldale is a pleasant village just over half a mile from Holmfirth and an excellent holiday base for the Brontë Country and the Peak District National Park.


10. Kent – Biddenden Vineyards, Biddenden, Kent TN27 8DF

Telephone 01580 291726

Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard and was planted just over 40 years ago and produces a range of still and sparkling wines – predominantly German varieties such as Ortega, Huxelrebe, Bacchus, Schonburger and Reichensteiner . Visitors are welcome to stroll around the 22 acres of vines, see the presses and bottling line in the winery and visit the shop to enjoy free samples of Biddenden’s wines, ciders and apple juices.

Where to stay nearby:

Hambleton Lodge, Staple, near Canterbury

Sleeps: 4 people

This pretty beamed cottage stands detached in a large enclosed garden on the edge of the small hamlet of Staple and is surrounded by countryside. Built nearly 300 years ago, it has been carefully restored by the present owners and retains many original features. The surrounding area is ideal walking territory with a plethora of footpaths including a vineyard trail.

Find out more at: www.englishwineweek.co.uk

Check out above accommodation and more at: www.cottages4u.co.uk