With the superb summer weather giving us another reason to head outside, we can't help but think of the beautiful vineyards in Kent, where delicious English wine, rows of grape vines and a sophisticated scene awaits.
Home to some of the most picturesque wine estates in the country, Kent's marvellous vineyards are perfect for raising a glass of fine tipple on a day out or staycation in the summer.
Known as English wine country, you'll find acres of sun-kissed vines to stroll in Kent as you sample delectable still and sparklings.
Kent's south-facing chalky soil and the mild climate provide the perfect conditions for the wine-growing industry similar to Champagne in France. In fact, Champagne producer Taittinger has land in Kent for producing English sparkling wine.
There are more than 50 vineyards in Kent, proving that the county knows a thing or two about the wine and is worth a trip.
Want to experience England's finest on a fabulous wine tour? Here are five of the best vineyards in Kent.
Chapel Down, Tenterden
The vineyard in Kent that helped lead the renaissance of English wines, Chapel Down is no stranger to winning prestigious awards for its vintages and impresses sommeliers and wine enthusiasts far and wide.
Set in Tenterden, the winery produces classy sparkling and still wines, as well as gin, vodka and cider. This is the place to stock up on delicious reds and roses served in the likes of the The Royal Opera House, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa and The London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican. You can take a guided tour of its acres, taste the wines and enjoy fine dining at its restaurant The Swan located in the vineyards.
Enjoy an overnight country escape with a Chapel Down tour and tasting for two with Virgin Experience Days.
Or try a tasting and tour for two people with Virgin Experience Days for a delightfully boozy day out.
Hush Heath Estate, Tonbridge
The first vineyard at Hush Heath Estate wasn't planted until 2002 but it officially landed on the wine map a few years later when 10,000 bottles of Balfour Brut Rosé, made from the first harvest in 2004, won a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge in 2008. A state-of-the-art winery and tasting room opened to visitors in 2010 and it's certainly a place worth experiencing.
The vineyard's sparkling was the first English sparkling wine to be served in British Airways' first class cabin and was the official English wine of the 2012 London Olympics. Aside from the award-winning sparkling and still whites and roses, there are beautiful woodlands and orchards to stroll. You can also stop for a bite in the nearby Goudhurst Inn, owned by Hush Heath.
Visit on a day tour with Buyagift, which includes a full tour and tasting for two.
Gusbourne Vineyard, Ashford
Based in the village of Appledore, this sprawling wine estate produces sparkling wines that stand up alongside the finest offerings from around the world. At Gusbourne, the combination of age-old traditions with modern technology allows it to sit comfortably between old and new world winemaking.
There are 60 hectares at Gusbourne and all of the grapes used in its wines are sourced solely from its vineyards in Kent and West Sussex. On a tour here, you spend time walking the vineyards, meeting the people who make the wines and experiencing them in the luxurious tasting room, the Nest.
You can book vineyard tours, tastings and picnics directly with Gusbourne.
While you're visiting this beautiful part of Kent, make it a boozy long weekend (or week) with friends and stay at a rustic oust large enough for 25 with Holidaycottages.co.uk.
Biddenden Vineyards, Ashford
The oldest family-run vineyard in Kent, Biddenden consists of 23 acres and produces top-notch white, rosé, red and sparkling wines, as well as Biddenden Cider, a strong, still cider, and Biddenden Farm Pressed Apple & Pear juices. Eleven different grape varieties are grown here and the winery produces around 80,000 bottles of wine a year.
All vine work is still carried out by hand, including pruning, canopy management and picking, with harvest running from mid September right through to November. There are vineyard tours, self-guided tours and meet the winemaker tours, plus a shop stocking local and regional products like jams, honey, chutney and local cheeses.
You can book vineyard tours, tastings and picnics directly with Biddenden.
There are some wonderful cottages in the picturesque village for longer stays in the area, such as the Grape Escape from Holidaycottages.co.uk.
The Mount Vineyard, Sevenoaks
Spanning 28 acres, The Mount Vineyard sits in the beautiful village of Shoreham, with its lovely pubs featuring bunting in the summer and cosy open fires in the winter. The boutique vineyard in Kent is a hidden gem and has 10 acres of vines, producing fine sparkling and still wines that have won awards.
Tours usually take place between June and September (check the website for current Covid-19 opening) and you can learn about the vines that were planted in 2004 and the eight varieties grown for producing red, rosé and white still wines, including the premium dry sparkling rose and white pinot.
Visit The Mount Vineyard's website to book a tasting directly.
Make it a group getaway and check into The Barn, a wonderful Victorian farmstead with a beautiful garden, orchard and enough room for nine.
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