Five holidays for wine lovers

From a Bordeaux-rivalling estate in Surrey to a taste of “fizz and falconry” in Kent. Jasper Spires reports

“It’s a rollercoaster of a summer with airbridges opening and closing”, and quarantines lifted then reimposed, says Ruth Doherty for Livingetc.com. But we Brits “are not ones to give up on hope of a summer getaway”. That has made the “fakation” the big travel trend of 2020 – that is, trying to find the equivalent of desired far-flung destinations on your doorstep. If you’re longing for a trip to Bordeaux, for example, then why not try Surrey instead? 

The Denbies Wine Estate, just an hour outside London, is “one of the UK’s largest wine producers and Surrey’s best-kept secret”. Nestled in the rolling hills of Dorking, the vineyard was founded in 1984 and is a pioneer of British winemaking, now famous for its sparkling wine and ortega varieties.

You can book a stay in the Denbies Vineyard Hotel, which offers daily tours of the breathtaking grounds and serves “delicious food with fresh ingredients grown onsite”.  (See denbies.co.uk for details.)

A country estate and vineyard in Sheffield 

Renishaw Hall

An award-winning vineyard in Sheffield has opened to the public for the first time, says Phoebe Fuller on Yorkshire Live. The Renishaw Hall country estate has long had its own vineyards and produces award-winning wines. Visitors to Renishaw’s seven-acre Italianate gardens can now also enjoy access to the vineyards. 

The gardens are “breathtaking”, featuring towering delphiniums, campanulas and lillies, and include the White Garden, a “serene oasis” with a single-colour planting scheme. Roses feature heavily in each area of the garden, and their scent is a “prominent” feature all around the vast estate. There are also ten acres of woodland gardens and a 12-acre lake area, which are buzzing with wildlife including birds and dragonflies. (The Hall itself is closed due to coronavirus-related restrictions, but guided tours are available. Book at renishaw-hall.co.uk.)

A star of Britain’s wine industry in Kent

Chapel Down winery

Chapel Down in Tenterden, Kent, is a star of the British wine industry – it became the official supplier of wine to No. 10 in 2016 – and became the country’s biggest winemaker in 2018 when it leased an additional 388-acre site for its wines. It is “ripe for a visit”, says Lauren Murdoch-Smith in British Vogue magazine. It offers a tasting course for the inexperienced – or for those looking to sharpen up their palates after months of lockdown drinking from the local supermarket. Chapel Down will guide you around its vines as part of its Fizz and Falconry tour, where you can swill a rosé brut while admiring some aerial acrobatics from the various birds of prey on site. You also get a fabulous lunch as part of the package.  (See chapeldown.com for details.)

A picturesque estate in the South Downs

Rathfinny Wine Estate

Since launching in 2010, the award-winning Rathfinny Wine Estate has “garnered resounding praise for its picturesque location in the South Downs”, says Lauren Hill in The Spectator. Its “world-class” wines include “blanc de blancs, blanc de noir, sparkling rosé and classic cuvée according to the traditional method of second fermentation, drawing on the characteristics of terroir, in line with the requirements set out by the Sussex PDO (protected designation of origin)”. 

Enjoy the wines either at the Seafood & Wine Kitchen, or curled up on a picnic blanket amid the rolling hills – order ahead if you would like a picnic hamper prepared for you. Accommodation is available at the Flint Barns, which has “cosy” rooms. (See rathfinnyestate.com.)

Two vineyard stays in Bordeaux

“Château Smith Haut Lafitte has been an admired Bordeaux vineyard since the 14th century,” says Nina Caplan in The Times. Since 1990, it has been owned by the Cathiards – former ski champions – who opened the “elegant hotel, with its two-Michelin-starred restaurant and grounds dotted with artworks”. Their daughter created the vinotherapy brand Caudalie, “which has been pampering guests with grape-based treatments” for 25 years. (See sources-caudalie.com)

Less than an hour away, the Quinneys, a British couple who moved to Bordeaux two decades ago to live the winemaking dream, let out their 18th-century farmhouse from April to October. Aside from making “excellent, good value wines” and offering a tour of the winery, they also know what British holidaymakers want – the furniture is comfortable, the kitchen well equipped, and there’s a heated pool with a vine-covered eating and barbecue area. (See bauduc.com/farmhouse-introduction)

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