In the year between April 2017 and April 2018, UK wine producers planted a record one million vines, meaning an extra two million bottles will enter the market in 2018.
The UK’s wine production has been on the up for well over a decade now, and with British summers becoming warmer, that trend is set to continue.
There are over 500 vineyards in the UK producing different types of grapes, with Chardonnay taking the number one spot as the most popular variety grown. Production takes place up and down the country but the presence of limestone across Kent and Sussex makes for particularly fertile ground meaning Britain provides a truly unique climate for farming, big names such as Taittinger and Vranken-Pommery have set up operations in the UK.
To celebrate World Wine Week, the following vineyards have been selected as the best of 2018, in no particular order:
Denbies – Surrey
Denbies first opened its doors in 1984 with the first planting taking place in 1986. It has since grown to a physical site stretching 627 acres across the North Downs, near the town of Dorking in Surrey. Since that auspicious start Denbies has gone from strength to strength, producing international award-winning sparkling, rose and dessert wines, as well as the UK’s first home grown Sauvignon Blanc.
Chapel Down – Kent
Located in the Kent countryside,near the market town of Tenterden, Chapel Down is the official wine of No 10 Downing Street.
Covering 22 acres, Chapel Down boasts an impressive array of facilities including The Swan restaurant and a wine academy all set against a backdrop of a designated area of beauty. The Swan has been awarded two AA Rosettes and a Michelin Bib Gourmand and offers packages including afternoon tea, three course meals and a cheese pairing experience.
Ryedale – Yorkshire
The rolling chalk hills of the Wolds play host to the Ryedale Vinyards. Set across two locations, Westow and Howsham, Ryedale says they are ‘currently the most northerly commercial vineyard in Britain.’ They pride themselves on the low environmental impact their growing has to the surrounding area, even harvesting by hand. Not content with just their wines, Ryedale has two orchards producing cider and apple juice.
Camel Valley – Cornwall
This Cornwall family affair has quickly ascended to the forefront of British wine making. Started in 1989 by ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie, Camel Valley has become famous for its selection of sparkling and still wines. Speaking about Camel Valley, Bob says: ‘we supply Waitrose nationally, Fortnum’s and Hakkasan in London, and even export to Japan. You’d be surprised how many customers say they first tried a glass of our wine at Tate Modern in London and felt they just had to come and visit the vineyard. I think making a top-quality product is the secret of our success.’ Bob and Annie have handed over the reins to their son, Sam, resulting a great level of success. Sam has been awarded UK Winemaker of the Year Award and the Wine of the Year Trophy since taking charge and shows no sign of slowing down.
Gloucestershire & Hampshire: Between its two sites, Three Choirs has 70 acres to produce its extensive range of wine. Its eleven wines range from oak aged reds to a summer rosé and have received a whole host of awards. By their very nature, vineyards are stunning places to host any event, but Three Choirs is cut above. Take your vows amongst the vines, celebrate in with up 150 people in The Old Winery and say I do in a romantic wooden gazebo. At Three Choirs, weddings are not the only events taking place. Throughout the year, their abundance of space is used by companies such as Pop Up Opera to host a variety of events. Accompanied by a selection of fine wine, take in some highbrow culture in an unusual setting.