Twenty years ago it was unthinkable that the U.K. 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 Southeast makes the region particularly suited to growing vines, especially the counties of Hampshire, Sussex and Kent. The most popular grape varieties grown in the area include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Bacchus, Pinot Meunier and Ortega.
While the future may well lie with some of the terrific sparkling wines that have competed favorably 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, now but you can experience this in the U.K.—and that’s worth raising a glass to.
Here are three vineyard restaurants worth making the trek across the pond for.
This rustic modern Bib Gourmand-designated restaurant sits above the shop in the Chapel Down Vineyard and boasts a cozy lounge and a lovely rooftop terrace with great views out over the vines. Dishes are refined and full of flavor and rely on just a few ingredients to do the talking. Naturally, wines from the vineyard.
Above Rathfinny Wine Estate’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.
A striking modern building plays host to this bright, spacious, first floor restaurant overlooking the 11,000-plus vines of Trevibban Mill 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 is charming.