While you dream of getting behind the wheel of your trusty motorhome and escaping onto the wide, open roads, have you ever considered a wine-tasting trip through the stunning English countryside?
Years ago, such a thought would have horrified many wine connoisseurs who pooh-poohed the charms of English wine. However, those days are far behind us, as a small but perfectly formed wine industry has taken advantage of our excellent soils and changing climate to produce a stunning range of world-beating wines. With many acres of fruit-filled green vines covering some of the most delightful countryside in the UK, now is the perfect time to visit these vineyards to taste their wines. So, grab your keys and find out what all the fuss is about.
If you have a taste for some of the finer things in life, then there’s no better excuse to get out on the road than with a visit to one of the vineyards listed below. Ideal for a spot of wine tasting, a guided tour and to experience the joys of British winemaking for yourself. Don’t delay, book your tour today!
Before you break out the corkscrew and start your sommelier training, you’d better make sure that your motorhome insurance is still up to date. Never ignore the importance of keeping your vehicle and its contents covered during a wine-tasting adventure. Motorhome mishaps can happen even in the most tranquil of rural surroundings.
Chapel Down Vineyard, Kent
Based at Small Hythe in the beautiful Kent countryside close to the picturesque market town of Tenterden, Chapel Down is perhaps the best-known vineyard in England. Indeed, their sparkling wine featured at both Kate and William’s and Meghan and Harry’s royal weddings, and makes a regular appearance on No 10 Downing Street’s dining table. Their still and sparkling wines are also supplied to British restaurant legends such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, and are served at venerable institutions including The Royal Opera House and The Barbican.
Despite this truly incredible fine wine pedigree, the vineyard remains open to visitors throughout the year who want to explore their 25-acre vineyard. If you’re looking for a unique experience then keep a keen eye out for the return of their Fizz and Falconry tour. Here vineyard visitors get to lure the birds of prey that protect those precious grapes from a range of small, nibbling creatures.
As well as fascinating tours and delicious tastings the winery is also home to a shop stocking local produce and a highly rated restaurant. And if you’re not partial to wine they also produce beautiful gin and vodka as well as their award-winning range of Curious beers and cider.
Where to stay: The long-established and family friendly Rother Valley Camping & Caravan Park is located in the pretty nearby village of Northiam on the Kent and East Sussex border. And if you fancy hopping over to France to compare wines then the site is conveniently located just 19 miles from the EuroTunnel Terminal at Ashford.
If you do plan to take a European trip to sample some of what continental winemakers have to offer, then check that your motorhome insurance covers European travel.
Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey
Stretching out over hundreds of acres of prime wine-producing land at the foot of Box Hill in Dorking, Denbies is a working winery that really provides a captivating sight in the middle of Surrey. As well as being able to sample their large range of wines there are several different tour options available. You could either stick to the indoor winery or climb on board their unique miniature train for a tour of the vineyard and views of the stunning North Downs.
There’s also a restaurant, excellent farm and gift shops and ample car parking. And if you just fancy a walk then there are over seven miles of public footpaths trailing throughout the vineyard. Perfect for clearing the head after a glass or two!
Where to stay: If you fancy trying a classic English pastime after tasting some classic English wines then look no further than Henfold Lakes Fishery and Camping Park. Their five fishing lakes are set in 95 acres of beautiful woodland in the Surrey countryside, what a wonderful spot to wake up in the morning!
Nyetimber, West Sussex
Nyetimber has a series of separate vineyards spread across Hampshire, Kent and West Sussex with a combination of the perfect soils and climate for winemaking. Indeed, unlike some winemakers, Nyetimber uses only its own estate-grown grapes from their own vines to ensure they use only the finest fruit to craft their acclaimed wines. Nyetimber has been producing sparkling wine for 30 years and it currently produces seven different varieties.
And your taste buds are in the best hands here. Head winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, and her winemaker husband Brad Greatrix are both highly-skilled winemakers passionate about crafting only the finest English sparkling wines.
To visit Nyetimber’s vineyard in West Chiltington you can attend one of its open day tours. Not only can you enjoy a one-of-a-kind tasting in their stunning 15th century medieval barn, but you can tour the vineyards, the state-of-the art pressing centre and even pick up a couple of bottles for your evening meals. What a great way to bring a spot of luxury into your motorhome.
Where to stay: The Washington Caravan and Camping Park is an idyllic site located at the foot of the stunning South Downs, overlooked by Chanctonbury Ring and between the picturesque villages of Steyning and Storrington.
Rathfinny Estate, East Sussex
Just three miles from the sea, this family-owned vineyard was first set up in 2010 with the ambition to create low-intervention and perfectly delicious Sussex sparkling wines. And they have certainly succeeded in that. Using the traditional method, the 230-acre vineyard now produces four world class sparkling wines including Rosé Brut and Classic Cuvée.
Join them for a summer tour of the estate to see how the wine is produced and to drink in those gorgeous views of the South Downs and the sea. For those who want to explore the Estate at their own pace, visit the Cellar Door and collect a walking map for a self-guided tour. Maps can also be downloaded via their website.
If you're feeling hungry then head chef Chris Bailey serves up beautiful contemporary British cuisine at the Tasting Room Restaurant. Or you could opt for one of their heavenly picnic hampers among the vines – they really are fantastic.
Where to stay: Alfriston Camping Park is nearby and offers a wonderful service for both large and small groups.
Langham Wine Estate, Dorset
Slap bang in the middle of classic Thomas Hardy country, Langham Wine Estate in Dorset prides itself on producing award-winning fizz using a low intervention approach and traditional methods. You can hear all about their grape growing and wine production methods via a self-guided tour, or a two-hour expert-led tour. Both followed by an obligatory tasting of course!
Where to stay: Surrounded by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Moreton Camping and Caravanning Club Site is a 15-minute drive away and perfectly situated for exploring the beautiful beaches, heath and downlands on offer nearby.
Three Choirs Vineyards, Gloucestershire
Channelling the gallic spirit of Tuscany and Bordeaux, Three Choirs Vineyards’ 75 acres of vine-draped, south-facing slopes are nestled deep in the picture-perfect Cotswolds. Producing red, white, rose and sparkling, there’s a wine here for every palate.
As one of England’s oldest vineyards the unforgettable grape-to-glass guided tour and tasting is well worth the money. Alternatively, for a do-it-yourself experience then simply head to the Cellar Door where (for a modest fee) you can taste five wines and then take a leisurely stroll through the vineyard – what great fun for a lazy afternoon!
Where to stay: A 17-minute drive will bring you to the scenic Hereford Camping and Caravanning Club Site. If you fancy a slightly more traditional country tipple from this part of the world then the Hereford Cider Museum is also a must-visit.
Sharpham Wine and Cheese, Devon
There are few better taste combinations than wine and cheese and few better places to explore them than at the Sharpham Estate on the banks of the River Dart near Totnes. With a farm history stretching back over 1000 years, they’ve ‘only’ been producing wines and their range of pasteurised and unpasteurised cheeses for the past 35 years.
The Sharpham Estate is all about producing world class wines and cheese in harmony with the natural environment and the natural beauty of this unique area. They offer a range of tours and tastings to explore the vineyard and to suit all budgets. From cheap and cheerful vineyard walks and self-guided tasting flights to guided tasting and a two-hour ‘vine to wine’ guided walk and tasting.
Where to stay: Steamer Quay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site in Totnes is a serene, green and spacious spot, with wonderful pastoral views. The site is well maintained and only a short walk from the historic town.
Camel Valley, Cornwall
Everyone loves visiting the magical county of Cornwall in their motorhomes – it really seems like a world away from the rest of the UK. And what better excuse than to visit Camel Valley near Bodmin in West Cornwall. Producers of fine English sparkling wines and the first UK vineyard to be awarded a sought-after Royal Warrant, the vineyard rewards you with superb views of their vine-covered slopes and beyond. Settings for wine tastings don’t come much more idyllic than this!
Take a relaxed and friendly guided tour of the vineyard and tasting or simply enjoy a glass or half glass of wine on The Terrace. You’ll find no wine snobbery here, just a refreshingly down-to-earth approach to winemaking.
Where to stay: Set in 15-acres of rolling Cornish countryside, the AA 4-star rated Mena Farm is the perfect location for a magical tour of Cornwall. They provide a range of touring and camping options to suit all requirements.
A note of warning for designated drivers
Clearly the ability to tour in your motorhome is a great opportunity to visit some of these amazing vineyards and even taste some of their award-winning produce. However, unless you’re going to follow the strict traditional tasting method of ‘swish and spit’ then you shouldn’t drive after a wine tasting. The amounts of wine you’re given may seem small on their own but they soon add up!
Really, the only way to be sure of staying under the drink-drive limit is not to drink at all. The law really couldn’t be clearer, don’t drink and drive!
If you’re going to try some of these wines then always follow these steps before your first sip.
- Make sure your motorhome is already securely parked up for the night and does not need to be moved later. Remember, a motorhome is difficult to manoeuvre even at the best of times.
- Is your motorhome likely to cause an obstruction? You can’t take the chance of having to move it later, even in an emergency.
- Would it be clear to a police officer that you’re going to be sleeping overnight in the motorhome rather than driving elsewhere? If the police think you might intend to drive later then you’re heading for trouble.
- After you've had a drink of alcohol, put the motorhome keys in a safe place, never start up the engine, never put the key anywhere near the ignition and never sit behind the steering wheel.
Protecting your vehicle with motorhome insurance
Whether you’re an experienced wine connoisseur or a first-timer, you need the right motorhome insurance in place to keep you and your vehicle safe.
Motorhome Protect’s cover can include benefits such as:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year including foreign use
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Enhanced cover for camping personal effects up to £3,000
- Consideration of all claims and convictions
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.