Twenty years ago it was unthinkable that the UK would be producing over 3 million bottles of wine a year from over 450 wineries. Now it’s a serious and well-respected industry with over 25% more land under vine in 2019 alone.
Vineyards can be found across the whole of England but the terroir of the South and South East makes the region particularly suited to growing vines, especially the counties of Hampshire, Sussex and Kent. The most popular grape varieties grown include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Bacchus, Pinot Meunier and Ortega.
While the future may well lie with some of the terrific sparkling wines which have competed favourably at international competitions alongside some of the best from Champagne, there’s a broad array of styles produced that offer ample choice to the discerning drinker and diner.
Dining surrounded by vines was once the preserve of trips to continental wine regions but we can now experience this at home – and that’s worth raising a glass to!
Swan Wine Kitchen at Chapel Down Vineyard, Tenterden, TN30 7NG
This rustic modern restaurant sits above the shop in the Chapel Down Vineyard and boasts a cosy lounge and a lovely rooftop terrace with great views out over the vines. Dishes are refined and full of flavour and rely on just a few ingredients to do the talking. Naturally, wines from the vineyard feature.
This restaurant holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand = award for its good value, good quality cooking.
Tasting Room at Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, BN26 5TU
Above the Rathfinny Winery’s wine and gin room, you’ll find a narrow restaurant boasting lovely views over the rolling Sussex Downs. Simple lunches are followed by set dinner menus themed around ‘Land’, ‘Sea’ and ‘Garden’. Cooking is clean and fresh with a creative modern element and is informed by seasonal Sussex produce. There’s a terrace for drinks and even bedrooms in a nearby farmhouse.
Appleton’s at Trevibban Mill Vineyard, Padstow, PL27 7SE
A striking modern building plays host to this bright, spacious, first floor restaurant overlooking the 11,000+ vines of the Trevibban Vineyard. You can enjoy wines, ciders and apple juices made on-site while gazing down the valley and dining on original Italian-influenced dishes. The terrace is the perfect spot for Sunday brunch and the serving team are charming.