Thanks to its sunny southern location, mild climate, and chalky soil, Kent’s many vineyards have earned a reputation for their sparkling varietals that rival French champagne. Kent proudly takes the title of England’s wine country with more than 50 wineries throughout the county. Visitors to the region can tour Kent’s many vineyards, sample the local production, and learn the long history of winemaking in the region.
Touring Kent’s wineries can provide fun for the whole family. With the county’s long history dating back to the Middle Ages, many of the vineyards in Kent feature castle ruins, stately homes, beautiful gardens, catering, and more for children, parents, and pets to explore.
- What are some of the best Vineyards in Kent?
- What grapes are grown in Kent?
- What are some of the best family-friendly vineyards in Kent?
- What are some of the best vineyards in Kent that have disabled accessibility?
- What are some of the best wineries for wine tasting in Kent?
- What are some of the special events that are hosted at the Wineries and Vineyards in Kent?
- What are some of the best wine tours that are offered in Kent?
- What is the best time to visit the vineyards in Kent?
- Are there any vineyard stays in Kent?
- Do the vineyards in Kent have restaurants?
What are some of the best Vineyards in Kent?
Some of the best vineyards in Kent have a variety of facilities that visitors can enjoy. Kent’s temperate climate makes it an ideal growing region for a selection of still and sparkling wines. Kent is home to the highest density of vineyards in England, as well as some of the largest and most respected wineries in the United Kingdom. Kent’s slightly more northern position from traditional French growing regions has drawn attention in recent years, as climate change warms previously prime areas of France.
Kent falls within the same geologic plane and climate as some of the popular Champagne regions. Grapes of the same varieties have already been grown in Kent with great success, making England a top competitor for France’s famed sparkling white wine. However, Kent also creates many other types of wine that visitors may enjoy. Some of the best vineyards in Kent are listed below.
- Chapel Down Vineyards, Tenterden: Chapel Down is the largest wine producer in the United Kingdom and is known for its fruity Brut made from champagne grapes. The vineyard has a 4.7-star rating and offers guided and independent walking tours, a restaurant, theatre experiences, and 5-star on-property accommodation at Sissinghurst Castle. Chapel Down vineyard is open from 10 am to 5pm every day and also offers an online store.
- Balfour Winery, Hush Heath Estate: The Balfour Winery is a top-end winemaker located in west Kent, producing a variety of both still and sparkling wines. The vineyard is pet friendly and offers guided tours, trails, a bed and breakfast, and a café, as well as on-site and online sales. Currently, Balfour Winery has a 4.6-star rating and is open from 10 am to 6 pm every day.
- Biddenden Vineyards, Ashford: Unlike many regional winemakers, Biddenden Vineyards has stuck to tradition and steered clear of Kent’s champagne renaissance. Instead, it focuses on Ortegas and German Reichensteiner varieties. The vineyard currently offers private and self-guided tours, as well as an online and on-site store, which is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, or 11am to 4 pm on Saturdays.
- Gusbourne, Appledore: The estate on which Gusbourne wines are produced has been around since the 15th century but it wasn’t 2006 that they started to make wine. Since then, Gusbourne has become the most awarded sparkling wine in the UK. The Gusbourne vineyard is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Sunday and offers a range of private tours, including simple lunches and Michelin-star catering.
- Oxney Organic, Beckley: Located near the port town of Rye, the Oxney Organic Estate has committed itself to producing low-intervention, organic wines. Today, it is the largest single-estate producer, making a variety of red, white, and sparkling wines. Visitors can enjoy a prepared picnic or take a guided tour of the vineyard before retiring to a cottage, barn, or shepherd’s hut on the estate.
- Simpsons Wine Estate, Canterbury: Simpsons Wine Estate is one of the newest vineyards in east Kent but has already made a name for itself with a full-flavoured chardonnay and sparkling Brut. The winery currently offers several experiences, including wine tastings, guided tours, sunset viewings, dinners, and more. Visitors to the vineyard can purchase wine on-site or they can order through their online store.
What grapes are grown in Kent?
Traditionally, grapes grown in Kent came from German varieties but, in recent years, Kent has become a prime location for growing the same grapes used to produce champagne. Some of the grapes grown in Kent are listed below.
- Pinot noir
- Pinot gris
- Pinot meunier
What wines are produced in Kent?
In the past decade, Kent has shifted towards producing brut and rose wines using the same grapes grown for champagne, but this doesn’t represent the full spectrum of wines made in the region. Some of the wines produced in Kent are listed below.
- Sparkling champagne blends
- Whites, including chardonnay, bacchus, pinot gris, pinot blanc, and Ortega
- Rich reds, such as pinot noir
Many Kent winemakers focus on producing organic products made with little or no intervention. Their drive has been to develop traditional and high-quality wines without relying on mass-production or industrial scaling. Oxney Organic Estate in particular has been a proponent of this style and is the largest organic single-estate winemaker in the nation.
Which Vineyards in Kent produce organic wines?
More than a handful of vineyards in Kent produce organic wines. Their attention has been towards quality over quantity and the success of their wines speaks for itself. Some of the vineyards in Kent that produce organic wines are listed below.
- Oxney Organic Estate
- Herbert Hall Winery
- Davenport Vineyards
- Sedlescombe Organic Wines
- Tillingham Winery
- Terlingham Vineyard
What are some of the best family-friendly vineyards in Kent?
Many of the wineries in Kent are open to families to enjoy their gardens, facilities, and vineyards. Some of the best vineyards for families of all sizes are listed below.
- Darcie Kent Estate
- Bluebell Vineyard
- Breaky Bottom Vineyard
- Chapel Down Vineyards
Are there any dog-friendly vineyards in Kent?
Yes, there are many dog-friendly vineyards in Kent. Below is a list of the most pet-friendly vineyards in Kent.
- Darcie Kent Estate
- Balfour Winery
- The Mount Vineyard
- Biddenden Vineyards
- Chapel Down Vineyards
What are some of the best vineyards in Kent that have disabled accessibility?
Some of the best vineyards in Kent that have disabled accessibility are quite few. Although not all wineries in Kent are disabled accessible, there are a fair number of sites that have worked to increase their accessibility for people of all abilities. Some examples of the vineyards with disabled accessibility are listed below.
- Squerryes Winery
- Balfour Winery
- Yotes Court Vineyard
- Simpsons Winery
What are some of the best wineries for wine tasting in Kent?
Among Kent’s many wineries, Balfour and Gusbourne Vineyards stand out as two of the best locations for on-site wine tastings. They both offer special events built around tasting and can be privately booked for tours, events, or other special occasions.
Balfour Winery offers daily tours, covering the estate’s apple orchards, vineyards, wildflower meadows, and facilities before ending with a complimentary wine tasting. During the tasting, the guide introduces guests to six different wines unique to the Balfour estate and explains the techniques used to capture their profiles. Tastings must be booked ahead of time and are available throughout the week for at least £45 a person, or at least £65 on weekends.
Gusbourne offers a wide range of tasting opportunities, including private picnics, seasonal harvest tours, pizza dinners, guided tours, and an extended tour complete with an in-depth exploration of Gusbourne’s many wines. All events must be booked ahead of time and fill up quickly, so it’s recommended to plan far ahead of time. Tastings cost from at least £25 to £90 per person, depending on the experience.
What are some of the best wineries in Kent for English sparkling wine?
Some of the best wineries in Kent for English sparkling wine offer visitors an opportunity to explore a variety of exotic wine brands. Kent is known as the sparkling wine capital of England, as most vineyards in Kent produce high-quality English sparkling wine made from the same grape varieties used to produce champagne. A few vineyards stand out as the top winemakers. Some of the best wineries in Kent for English sparkling wine are listed below.
- Chapel Down
- Herbert Hall
What are some of the special events that are hosted at the Wineries and Vineyards in Kent?
Some of the special events that are hosted at the wineries in Kent offer visitors an opportunity to experience a variety of activities. With both the largest and most awarded vineyards in the UK, Kent’s wineries are home to many events that run throughout the year. Some of the events that are hosted at the wineries and vineyards in Kent are listed below.
- English Wine Week: Kent is home to a week-long celebration of everything English wine. Leeds and Hever Castles both provide guided wine tours throughout the region, allowing visitors to explore the ins and outs of British wine country. The celebration is sponsored by top-tier vineyards and has the support of the local council.
- Wine Dinners: Many of the large vineyards, such as Chapel Down, Gusbourne, and Simpsons, have standing relations with Michelin star chefs and regularly host wine dinners for guests to sample both food and beverage.
- Theatre experiences with Chapel Down: Along with guided tours, Chapel Down regularly teams with local theatre troops to put on shows. For example in July 2022, Ultraviolet performed a circus-themed rendition of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Are there any Vineyards in Kent that are available for venue hire?
Yes, many of the large-scale vineyards in Kent are available for venue hire. Gusbourne offers venue space for corporate and private events, as do Chapel Down and Balfour Winery. Guests may inquire with the venues to learn more about renting marquees and bar space for weddings, celebrations, and other special events. Venue prices are set according to the number of guests and the package you request, with average prices starting at least £120 per person.
What are some of the best wine tours that are offered in Kent?
There are many different wine tours offered throughout Kent. Some of the best wine tours that are offered in Kent are listed below.
- The Gusbourne Estate Tour: For visitors looking for a luxurious experience, the Gusbourne Estate Tour offers a comprehensive exploration of the Gusbourne vineyard, complete with a luxurious three-course lunch, wine tastings, and a chance to sip some of Gusbourne’s prestigious, limited-edition vintages. Public tours start from at least £90 a person and must be booked well in advance.
- Biddenden Vineyards Private Tour: Biddenden Vineyards offers private, comprehensive tours of their estate for groups of up to 8 people. This is a wonderful option for private tours with families and friends who want to learn more about the winemaking process while sampling the final product. The tour requires a minimum of 2 people and costs at least £40 a person.
- Balfour Full Estate Tour: Guests at Balfour wine estate are guided through the estate and given a thorough explanation of how its wines are produced. To finish the experience, guests then sample six unique wines and are presented with a short film. Tours are open to the public from April to October and cost at least £45 a person during the week and at least £65 on weekends.
What is the best time to visit the vineyards in Kent?
The best time to visit the vineyards in Kent is from late spring to the end of summer which corresponds to the months of April to September. These months are the warmest and produce the highest volume of grapes. Most tours of the vineyards in Kent start in April and continue through the end of September.
Are there any vineyard stays in Kent?
Yes, there are many vineyard stays in Kent. Many of the vineyards in Kent offer bed and breakfast accommodation or larger, including stately homes and castles. Prices for vineyard stays in Kent cost on average between at least £75 and £120 a night. Some of the loveliest vineyard stays are listed below.
- Hush Heath Estate
- Oxney Organic Winery
- Tillingham Wines
Do the vineyards in Kent have restaurants?
Yes, many of the vineyards in Kent have restaurants. Some of the largest estates in Kent even partner with Michelin-star chefs or own one-site pizzerias, cafes, and restaurants. Balfour wine estate owns several pubs and inns throughout Kent, offering its high-quality wine and dining.
For a rustic, down-country, English meal, visitors may eat at Tillingham vineyard, which will cost at least £14 a meal. For a higher-budget option, Gusbourne offers three-course meals prepared by a chef and paired with premium wine.