The Wineries of the Garden of England
A visit to Kent is typically full of gardens, castles, perhaps a beach or two, but increasingly popular are the wineries – the places where the best English wine is made. People often hear of the wine of Kent, whether it’s through being served at the Royal Wedding or stocked at your local store, but taking a visit to Kent and exploring where it’s grown and produced is something else. Take a read of the Wine Garden’s wineries and how to enjoy not only a guided tour, but savour local produce, homemade food and taking a look behind the scenes!
Joining the party with a total revamp, which started opening in May 2019, Squerryes newly outfitted winery includes the new Dining Room and Terrace, Tasting Room and The Bottle Store. Across the three spaces you will be able to enjoy the freshest seafood and drink (of course!) overlooking the vines from the sun terrace; a comfortable, plush area for the relaxing guided tasting of the wines; and, if you’re looking to hold an event, a space for up to 40 people with views right across the Garden – you need not leave!
Hush Heath Estate
Almost equally as new as Squerryes winery buildings is Hush Heath Estate’s. In the late summer of 2018, a new visitor centre and shop opened up on the Estate, right in the centre of the operation, providing reaching views to the Manor across the vines and woodland. Inside, the rustic feeling building is a 200-seat tasting room, called The View, rightly so with sights to the winery vats and floor to ceiling windows letting in natural light, framing the artwork that adorns the walls – the perfect place to relax after a tour! What's more, visitors can see the full process from grape to glass and are welcome to visit for complimentary self-guided walks and tastings 7 days a week, 10am-5pm.
Simpsons Wine Estate
Sitting at the start of the Elham valley and just 20 minutes’ drive from Canterbury is Simpsons Wine Estate. The vineyard started planting vines in Kent in 2014, and opened their winery in 2016. With the opening conducted by wine aficionado Oz Clarke, Simpsons have been welcoming guests on tours and tastings ever since. Every care has been taken to enhance the visitor experience, with a tour of the vines, tasting in the Glass House overlooking the vats, finished off by an exhilarating ride down the ‘Fruit Chute’ helter skelter!
Set in 22 acres of the finest English countryside and vines, and just moments from Smallhythe, Chapel’s Down’s long established winery is sublime and the place to be in Tenterden. After you have finished your guided tour (or even if you're just popping by), on site is a shop laid out with all of Chapel Down and Curious’ current offerings, sat alongside a small farmers market style delicatessen – perfect for pairing! If you’re looking to lull in the countryside a little longer into the afternoon or evening there’s the double AA Rosette Swan and Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant just above the shop complete with outdoor terrace for those warm days.
50 years into its life in 2019, Biddenden Vineyards is still absolutely surrounded by nothing but High Weald countryside, and this is reflected in the winery shop. Home to a plentiful amount of local produce – from cheeses to chutneys, there’s plenty here too for any kind of evening, picnic or soirée you are planning. Once you’ve stocked up, you can pop outside for a free tasting and walk around the vines, exploring where the drinks you have just purchased originated from, and in typical countryside tradition – four legged friends are welcome on leads!
Though the estate may date back to 1410, the modern Gusbourne estate is much more up to date. In 2017, keeping in line with the de Goosebourne family crest, the Nest was launched – Appledore’s cosiest and most stunning tasting room to savour some of the counties finest wine. If you’re looking for the full experience, The Gusbourne Discovery tour encapsulates a tasting and tour, finished off with a seasonal lunch menu, enjoyed right there tucked up in The Nest.
One's to watch
As the wine region of Kent is ever expanding, as is Chapel Down. Near Maidstone in north west Kent, there is new vine planting happening at Boarley Farm creating the largest and finest vineyard on the North Downs of Kent. The planting promises to be fruitful as it neighbours the Kit’s Coty and Boxley estates and we all know how exceptional they are! The land will have a total of 620 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. You'll even be able to see the vines from the window of the High Speed train as it whizzes through the countryside.