Cathy's Holiday Ideas

Tour the vineyards of England

Tour the vineyards of England

If the press reports are to be believed, 2013 is going to be a bumper year for English wine. The cold winter, a mild April and the warm, dry weather in July are pretty much perfect growing conditions for winemakers. They say grapes have never been of such quality and quantity. So, why not rent a holiday cottage and tour the vineyards of England and, I should add, Wales which has also dipped its toes into viticulture. More often associated with a holiday in the famous French wine regions such as Burgundy or Bordeaux, this is a great way to discover local produce as well as explore the area.

English vineyards are now coming of age, with their sparkling wines outperforming their French rivals in a number of respected competitions. At the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London in June 2005, a panel of experts tasting the wines blind, awarded the trophy for 'Best Sparkling Wine' to the Ridge View Wine Estate in Sussex, beating the competition from 55 countries including France. In June 2004, the Consumer Association's Which? magazine held a blind tasting of 17 English sparkling wines. Also in the tasting was Champagne that had come top of a Champagne tasting held by Which? a couple of years before. Three English sparkling wines gained marks that were superior to the Champagne and four equalled the score earned by the Champagne. The top wine was Nyetimber's Classic Cuvee 1996 (made in Sussex), second was Chapel Down's Pinot Reserve (from Kent) and third was Cuvee Merrett Cavendish 2000 from Ridge View.

If you were to tour all the English vineyards your travels would take you from Cornwall all the way up to Yorkshire. But it is in the south east, and particularly Sussex, where they are most concentrated and perhaps the finest wines can be found. For my holiday cottage recommendation I have selected two former oast houses, associated with the production of beer rather than wine as they were used for drying hops. Both are just a few miles from Battle and close to the coast so there's plenty to do when you're not wine tasting. There are four vineyards within a matter of a few miles: Battle Wine Estate is located at Leeford Vineyards, not much further than an arrow's flight from the historic town of Battle. The New Zealand trained winemaker produces a stunning range of both red and white wines; Carr Taylor Vineyards situated in Westfield, just north of Hastings, has won a cellar-full of International awards for their still, rose and sparkling wines. Neill's Vineyard run by Tim and Jenny Neill at Rushlake Green is open to visitors by prior arrangement; and Sedlescombe Vineyard at Robertsbridge is the oldest, and leading organic, vineyard in England.

Slightly further afield in West Sussex are some of the leading vineyards such as Ridgeview and Nyetimber. However, if you want to explore vineyards in other parts of the UK you will find clusters in Gloucestershire (including the renowned Three Choirs), Kent and Devon.

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  • Millers Oast

    Millers Oast

    Property Reference Number:

    Powdermill Lane.  View on map>

    In a nutshell: Countryside views, comfortable, short drive to coast, pet friendly. Our featured Sussex holiday cottages include this former oast h...
    Sleeps: 4
    Weekly price range: £373 - £740
    Add to shortlist > View more information on this property
  • The Oast

    The Oast

    Property Reference Number:

    Cottage Lane, Westfield.  View on map>

    In a nutshell: Comfortable, short drive to coast, pet friendly. Our featured cottages in Sussex include this delightful property in the heart of t...
    Sleeps: 3
    Weekly price range: £263 - £513
    Add to shortlist > View more information on this property

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