Foragers, chefs, winemakers and an oysterman are fronting a new campaign from the county’s tourism organisation, Visit Essex to attract tourists to the region to enjoy the county’s rural landscape, fresh produce and fine dining.
Latest research revealed that visitors to the county spent more on food and drink (39% of visitor spend) than anything else (30% on accommodation). Essex is world-renowned for food producers, such as Tiptree Jam, Maldon Sea Salt and Mersea oysters. With the growth of food and drink producers, award-winning pubs, restaurants and hotels, as well as the county’s stunning rural landscapes, Visit Essex is keen to promote the county’s assets this harvest time and help extend the visitor season.
Councillor Mark Durham, Chairman of Visit Essex, explains: “Essex has so much to offer, from the freshest fish and oysters to the finest award-winning vineyards, as well as a growing number of gastropubs, boutique hotels and top chefs. We’re also just a short drive away from London and have excellent transport connections, which makes us the ideal place to visit.”
He continued: “Essex is also blessed with mile after mile of stunning rural landscapes. You can watch the harvest being gathered, take walks in the countryside and enjoy a hearty meal in a cosy pub or restaurant. Visit food markets, buy wine at the cellar door or forage in the woods – there’s definitely something for everyone!”
Essex’s rural countryside makes for a perfect autumnal break, where visitors can enjoy short stays on a wide range of farms. There are Scandinavian-inspired pine cabins set between a wildflower meadow and a calming stream, which sleep four at Malting Farm Cabins in Little Bentley near Colchester. Or opt for life on a working farm; head to The Fieldbarns at Great Canfield and choose between three converted barns with modern interiors set in a quiet rural location.
For visitors looking for something unique, there are plenty of vineyards across the county that offer accommodation.
Tuffon Hall’s six-bedroom converted farmhouse is conveniently located on-site and visitors can upgrade their stay with a vineyard tour and wine tasting experience. The Great Lodge at Bardfield Vineyard welcomes visitors for bed and breakfast or self-catering options, and its contemporary rustic design is perfect for those who want to escape the city and relax in the country.
While out and about, visitors are being encouraged to check out local farmers’ markets, fresh fish and oyster shacks, stores, country pubs and restaurants.
A highlight is a visit to Blackwells Farm Shop, Coggeshall, where foodies will discover a variety of locally harvested produce. Try out the jam that the county is world-famous for, head to one of the nine Tiptree Tea Rooms across the county, where visitors can indulge in a tasty afternoon tea. Essex is also home to the Michelin-Star winning Galvin Brothers’ Galvin Green Man, near Chelmsford; head here for a delicious pub lunch after a morning of exploring. Or for a rustic, country-pub feel, choose between The Hoop in Stock, where you can enjoy real ales and locally sourced pub food, or The Mistley Thorn, which is perfectly located for views down the River Stour, and offers the best local seafood and seasonal ingredients.
A thriving winemaking sector has also emerged across Essex, due to the region’s geology and increasingly warm climate. Saffron Grange vineyard’s unique soil formation reflects the Champagne region of Northern France, and tours and tastings of its award-winning wine take place regularly. Or take a trip to Crouch Ridge vineyard, near Burnham on Crouch, to sip sparkling wine and experience the breath-taking views over the River Crouch.
As well as wines, Essex is becoming well-known for its distilleries. Brentwood Brewing Company is the perfect spot to try tasty craft beers, with a brewery open day happening every second Saturday of the month. If spirits are more your taste, East Coast Distillery, located just off the estuary in Landermere, produces fine gins with ingredients foraged from the vast Essex coastline.
Harvest is a great time to visit the Essex countryside this harvest season. To find out more about Essex food and drink, head to https://www.visitessex.com/food-and-drink/.