The best vineyard tours in East Anglia
To celebrate English Wine Week, 27 May – 4 June, we’ve listed the best vineyard tours in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex
We don’t often need an excuse to pour ourselves a glass of wine, but with English Wine Week taking place later this month there’s no better reason to do so. We know that our region serves up some of the best meat and seafood around, but did you know nestled among the countryside the region’s vineyards are rustling up wines that rival those in Europe?
“East Anglia is fast gaining a reputation for its ability to ripen grapes and the most prominent variety, Bacchus, which produces aromatic white wines similar in style to a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, is becoming recognised on a world stage,” explains Ben Witchell, owner of Flint Vineyard in Earsham.
He and his wife Hannah moved to Norfolk from Beaujolais in 2015 where Ben had been working as a winemaker, to begin their new venture in partnership with local farmer Adrian Hipwell. Thanks to the sheltered and sunny slopes of the Waveney Valley the vineyard is producing one of the best Bacchus in the region.
But don’t just take our word for it, try it for yourself. The vineyard will open its doors to the public for the first time on 1 May. In fact, there’s no better way to sample East Anglian wines than by experiencing it for yourself. If you’re looking for a day out or to try something new this summer, here are our picks of vineyard tours:
Vineyard tours in East Anglia
Camphill Farm, Middle Rd, Earsham, Bungay NR35 2AH
Flint vineyard will open its doors from 1 May 2017 for tours of the vineyard and winery, to coincide with the launch of its first vintage. Every Wednesday and Saturday at 10am, Ben and Hannah invite you to join them as they personally guide you through the vineyard and winery, explaining first-hand the detail of growing vines and making wine.
The tour will continue in the newly renovated tasting room with a tutored tasting of Flint Vineyard’s first wines. (Allow up to two hours – booking is essential.) Gift vouchers are also available. For special offers during English Wine Week visit the website at www.flintvineyard.com
Balsham Rd, Cambridge CB21 4LE
Perhaps one of the most popular vineyards in the East, tours take place every Friday – Sunday until end of October, and Thursdays from June. There are three tours available including lunch with tour & tasting, afternoon tea with tour & tasting and tour & tasting. Full details of tours at www.chilfordhall.co.uk
West Street Vineyard
West St, Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1NB
A boutique micro-vineyard set in beautiful countryside, the vineyard features a wine school where you can take an introduction to wine workshop and for groups of two or more a vineyard walk and wine tasting. If you’re looking to soak up pretty scenery stop by for lunch at the Wine Barn’s Café restaurant, which includes a wine wall for automated tasting to showcase wines from East Anglia and over 20 English varieties. More information at http://www.weststreetvineyard.co.uk
Valley Farm Vineyards
Rumburgh Road, Wissett, Halesworth IP19 0JJ
The eight acres vineyard offers three types of tours. The self-guided tour for just £7.50 per person where you’ll be able to follow the marked route and finish with generous tasting of one of the wines. The Private Tutored Tour and Wine Tasting Experience for groups is conducted exclusively by one of the co-owners and tailored to the interests of the group, finishing with wine tasting, while the Public Tour and Taste Session is scheduled to take place on the first Saturday of the month. This is an opportunity for couples and small groups to book in for a tutored tour and tasting session with the co-owners.
To celebrate English Wine Week, the vineyard will be at the at Beccles Food and Drink Festival on Saturday 27 May, where its wine will be available to taste and buy. On Wednesday (#winewednesday) it will have an English Sparkling offer at ‘ESW-1’ – the pop up wine bar at the Vineyard. www.valleyfarmvineyards.co.uk
Hartest, Bury St Edmunds IP29 4EX
Located in the pretty village of Hartest, visitors can choose from three different tours including a guided tour, cheese tasting and the premium tour which features the vineyard’s sparkling wine. Stop by the Vineyard Shop to stock up on award-winning English wines, liqueurs and hampers. www.giffordshall.co.uk
Badingham Rd, Woodbridge IP13 9HZ
One of the oldest commercial vineyards in East Anglia, it produces white, red, rose and sparkling wines. There are two tours available. One features a tasting, while the other includes the addition of lunch. Read more about all tours at www.shawsgate.co.uk
Norfolk Wine School
Fancy going back to school? Impress your next dinner guests with knowledge of wine by enrolling at the Norfolk Wine School; an independent wine education company which hosts tastings and wine courses across Norfolk. There’s a range of courses to suit all requirements from an introduction to wine to more in-depth and themed tastings. Courses take place at The Library Restaurant in Norwich, while tastings and events are often held at St Andrews Brewhouse, Norwich. Check out upcoming events at http://www.norfolkwineschool.com
Essex Wine School
Learn more about wine by enrolling at the Essex Wine School; an independent wine education company which hosts tastings and wine courses across Essex. There’s a range of courses to suit all requirements including tastings and confidence in buying wine. Courses take place in Chelmsford, Leigh on Sea and Colchester. Find your nearest course at www.essexwineschool.com
It’s not just East Anglian wine that’s making waves in the industry, Bullards Spirits is celebrating a sensational win as its Norwich Dry Gin is named the World’s Best London Dry Gin in the World Gin Awards 2017.
Bullards Spirits is the only gin distillery in Norfolk and the first to use Tonka Bean in its recipe. Now with this prestigious accolade, the brand is looking to make its mark nationally and internationally and has even undergone a modern rebrand to give it greater presence. Pick up a bottle at www.bullardsspirits.co.uk