England’s wine country regions are some of the most picturesque in the world. Fortunately, there are many vineyards near London, close enough for a day trip or a quick overnight respite from the city.
Why visit any winery closeby when you can taste the best wine being made in England?
With over 200 wineries to choose from, we rounded up the top 10 award winning wineries within a 2-hour drive of central London. We’ll also give you a taste of what each winery is making, and tell you why England’s winemaking scene is on the rise.
Enfield, North London
Forty Hall Vineyard
Forty Hall Vineyard is located in Enfield, so it’s the closest vineyard near London central on this list. It is not only a certified organic farm, but one that fosters community through volunteer opportunities as a part of their ecotherapy project.
The 10 acres of grapes are grown on gravelly soil with Southern exposure. Featuring low-intervention wines, their Brut sparkling and Bacchus wines have been awarded gold medals by the IEWA.
Forty Hall’s sparkling wine is made in the traditional method of Champagne, and is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. They produce an Ortega white wine as well. All of the wines at Forty Hall Vineyard are natural and unfiltered.
Forty Hall is seasonally open for tours, and tastings from April to October on the same days that they host a farmers market. The vineyard and farm grounds are really nice and day here will be well spent.
The Thames used to run through what is now the Chiltern Hills valley, leaving behind unique soil conditions: clay and gravel on top of chalk. Chalk is a predominant element in the soils of the Champagne growing region in France, and it turns out the same grapes grow well in Chiltern Hills.
The closest part of this region is only about a 45min-1hr drive from central London, and the countryside is beautiful. Here are a couple of best vineyards near London to visit in Chiltern Hills.
Harrow and Hope Winery
Harrow and Hope is growing typical grapes used in Champagne – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier on their 6.5 hectare vineyard. The sparkling wines are produced in the traditional method with extended time on the lees.
Seasonal vineyard and winery tours occur with a 3-glass tasting on every other Wednesday and Saturday in May through September, when the weather is kind. Bookings are available online.
Woodfine is also located in Chiltern Hills and is currently undergoing a farm conversion to organic status. They practice regenerative farming methods and have a diverse ecosystem with grazing animals, chickens and wildflower fields for bees.
Woodfine cider and sparkling wines are crafted using ancient techniques Col Fondo and Pétillant Naturel. They are very minimal intervention wines without sulfites, additives or disgorgement. Woodfine winery tours are available by appointment only.
Sussex is a terroir with deep chalk deposits perfect for sparkling wine grapes. It also tends to get slightly less rain than other growing regions in England. In addition to typical Champagne grapes, you’ll also find Bacchus, a clone once created specifically for England, plus a few lesser known grape varietals.
Breaky Bottom is a small family winery in East Sussex, inside South Downs National Park, and winemaker Peter Hall has been producing impressive wines there since the 1970s. The site is just below the area Virginia Woolf used to take her walks, and is as picturesque as English countryside could be.
The soil at Breaky Bottom’s 6-acre vineyard is chalk loam with flint, contributing to gold medal-winning sparkling wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Seyval Blanc.
Breaky Bottom’s wines are limited allocation and some of the best sparkling wine in England. Visits can be made by appointment only, and the drive is directly south of London, 30 minutes east of Brighton.
Highweald Estate is a winery to watch. With their first release of sparkling wine, they are already racking up awards. Using Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, Highweald is crafting two sparkling wines – a Brut Reserve and a Rosé.
Tours and tastings at the estate are a great way to spend an afternoon, as its a short drive to this vineyard near London.
Kent benefits from a warmer climate than the rest of England and its rich in chalk soil like many a Champagne region. Even Champagne house Taittinger invested in Kent land for a future English sparkling wine project called Domaine Evremond. Here are a couple of Kent vineyards near London to visit for a day or a weekend.
Gusbourne is growing predominantly Burgundian clones of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes on 16 vineyard plots across 90 hectares in Kent and West Sussex. Their winery and tasting room are 10 minutes northeast of Rye, and a nice day trip from London.
You can book vineyard tours and several types of tasting experiences, from wine flights to wine tastings with coursed lunches. They’ll even hand offer you a map and let you take a self-guided tour of the property for a nice stroll through the vineyards.
Gusbourne has been awarded many times for both its still and sparkling wines. Their prestige sparkling wine is a vintage sparkling aged six years on the lees, a testament to the terroir and craftsmanship required to make excellent wines. Whether you’re into Pinot Noir or bubbles, there is something for you to discover at Gusbourne.
Roughly 20 minutes down the road from Gusbourne is Chapel Down, a winery most awarded for its Kit’s Coty range of sparkling wines. South-facing vines of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Bacchus are grown on chalk soils and are exposed to a warm, maritime climate.
They have a large selection of still and sparkling wines, as well as gin, vodka, and an aperitif. There is much to do at Chapel Down. Their onsite restaurant, The Swan, has been awarded Michelin Bib Gourmand, and even offers a Chef’s Table experience.
Wine tasting experiences range from sipping wine in the vineyard to a tutored tasting with a 3-course set lunch. For a really special weekend, Chapel Down offers an overnight package with a private guided tour and tasting, plus a stay at Sissinghurst Castle B&B.
Hampshire is mostly known for its seaside towns, but several wineries are producing wine and making their mark in the world of English wine. The terroir is clay capped chalk, covered in flint rocks that keep the ground warm. If you fancy a trip to Hampshire, put these vineyards on your itinerary.
The Grange was named Best Boutique Producer in England by WineGB in 2022, among other prestigious awards. A wine project dreamt up by four siblings, this boutique winery is crafting sparkling wine from its Burge’s Field vineyard in Hampshire.
Seasonal summer wine tours at the vineyard are available, and The Grange is preparing to receive visitors for tastings at the newly built winery (at the time of writing this article).
Another award winning producer of English sparkling wine is Raimes, located on the chalk slopes of South Downs in Hampshire. Growing Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, Raimes makes its sparkling wine in the traditional method.
The cellar tasting room is open for tasting every Saturday, and in the summer (May-September) are held outside in the courtyard, and bookings are not required. A vineyard tour is possible, but inquire about availability.
The Wharie Experience
Depending on traffic, a drive to The Wharie Experience vineyard might take over 2 hours, as its near Lymington. However, if you’re already tasting wine in the Hampshire area and staying overnight, you should add it to your list, because this boutique winery offers something new to taste.
The Wharie Experience is producing still wine and cider from the 2 hectare vineyard in Hampshire and sources grapes from nearby regions as well. The grape varietals and style of winemaking is unique compared to other wineries on this list.
The soils are mostly sandy with gravel and clay, due to the vineyard’s proximity to the sea – a bit different from the chalky terroir of other Hampshire vineyards. The Orange Bacchus and Pinot Gris have been awarded Gold Medals by the IEWA, but the winery also crafts a Pinot Noir, White blend, Bacchus, and Chardonnay.
There are several wine tasting experiences to choose from, including a wine, cider, and cheese pairing and vineyard tour with the winemaker.
Best Time to Visit London for Winery Tours
The best time to visit vineyards near London for tours and tastings of English sparkling wines is during the months of April to October. If you go during the summer, you’ll enjoy vineyard walks and picnics among the vines.
Autumn brings a cooler season, a nice time to drink red wine, and opportunities to attend harvesting festivals. No matter when you go, make sure to book your vineyard tour and wine tasting to secure your spot. It’s a popular activity, especially when it’s nice outside!
English Sparkling Wine
English sparkling wines are starting to make their mark in the greater world of wine, and for good reason. Most of the main wine growing regions in England have similar cool climate and chalk soil conditions to Champagne in France, which offer a unique minerality found in great sparkling wine.
Climate change has had a huge effect on the growth of English winemaking. Temperature zones are gradually moving north, and if this trend continues, it is hypothesized that the Champagne growing region in France will eventually be too hot to produce quality grapes for sparkling wine.
Champagne grapes require a cool climate in order to yield optimal results. A few Champagne Houses have already started buying land in the South Downs, as well as in Kent and Sussex, to plant vines. This bodes well for England’s future as a world class sparkling wine producer.
If you’re looking for a vineyard near London, England, then check out these top wineries. Not only are the vineyards beautiful, but the wines are winning awards and helping further England’s mark on the international wine scene.
Each has lovely grounds to explore in the summer months (some in winter), and some offer unique wine styles that you can’t find elsewhere. Autumn is a great time to visit vineyards in England because the weather is cool, nice for red wine tastings, and the wineries are buzzing for harvest.