English vineyards have, like most hospitality businesses, been hugely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tours and tasting sessions have been put on hold and many wineries are relying on online orders for businesses to survive.
England now has more than 500 vineyards and while our reputation for making some of the best sparkling wines around keeps growing, we’re also proving to be pretty adept at producing excellent still wines.
From 20 – 28 June, its English Wine Week, an annual event created by WineGB, the national association for the English and Welsh wine industry. It’s designed to raise awareness of the variety of different wines being made up and down the two countries, and previous years have seen events take place at the vineyards themselves and in local communities.
This year, however, everything has moved online, you can follow along on Wine GB’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages as they highlight the best wines we have to offer, along with blogs, live tasting schedules and quizzes on its website.
The best way to show support during this difficult time is to buy your bottles of wine directly from these vineyards, next time you’re running low. While there may be some delays, all deliver across the UK.
Whether it’s for catch-ups over zoom, socially distanced meet-ups in your garden or picnics 2m apart in the park, these are the English wineries worth spending with.
You can trust our independent roundups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Cornwall-based vineyard Camel Valley, has been making wine since 1989, and is run by husband and wife duo, Bob and Annie.
They built the winery themselves and have since gone onto create award-winning wines that are sold at high-end restaurants too including; Rick Stein’s chain, Fortnum and Mason, Hakkasan and even export to Japan. You’ll also find them in Waitrose too.
The Camel Valley Atlantic dry 2018 (Camel Valley, £13.95) ranked highly in our guide to the best English still wines thanks to the full-on citrus and green fruit flavours and a beautifully crisp and dry finish.
In the South Downs, you'll also find sparkling wine producer Nyetimber, which has been grape growing since 1988, with vines spread across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent.
Try the Nyetimber classic cuvée (Waitrose, £36.99), which is a palate of honey, almond, pastry and baked apples.
It's made with three different grape varieties; pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier and pairs well with seafood.
Kent is home to Chapel Down, one of the UK’s biggest winemakers, who source the fruits that go into its wines locally and further afield such as Essex and Hampshire.
Its sparkling bacchus (Waitrose, £11.99) comes highly rated from our guide to the best English sparkling wines. This affordable fizz will suit those who like their wines more intense, tropical and zesty. Made with bacchus, which is fast becoming known as England’s version of sauvignon blanc, it has been made using the traditional Prosecco method.
You get aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and elderflower, while the texture is crisp and refreshing. Not a complex or sophisticated wine, by Chapel Down’s own admission, but it is easy drinking, fresh and vibrant. And it’s new too – launched just last year. Summer in a glass.
Try Hampshire-based, family-run winery, Black Chalk, which specialises in sparkling wine using locally grown grapes.
Tours and tastings will take place at a later date, so you can plan a day trip for when things go back to normal.
Its Black Chalk classic 2015 (Black Chalk, £35) is a sweet blend of green apple and floral notes, with a hint of honey that makes for a crisp, fresh sparkling wine that we'll be enjoying all summer long.
Organic vineyard Davenport has locations in Kent and Sussex and has been making and selling wine since 1991.
Founder Will Davenport converted all the vines and winery to organic systems in 2000, all of which are certified by the Soil Association. It’s big on sustainability too, with the winery running on solar electricity, using only lightweight bottles and natural corks, recycled boxes and no plastic in the packaging. There’s even a winery dog called Marvin.
There’s a lovely softness to this wine, which has citrussy aromas with hints of buttery yeast and notes of baked apples and lemon peel. Goes a treat with shellfish.
You’ll find the Denbies vineyard nestled in Dorking, Surrey, family-run since 1984. It’s now one of the largest wine producers in the UK, running across 627 acres of land.
At £60 for a half-bottle, this is an expensive way into English wine. But what you’re paying for is a taste of an exquisite dessert wine made from ortega grapes that have been attacked by noble rot (botrytis).
That may sound nasty but the infection, if carefully managed, can produce some of the finest sweet wines in the world. Rich but never cloying, you can almost chew on the vanilla and candied and preserved fruit flavours here, balanced as they are by notes of citrus and spice.
West Sussex wine producer Roebuck Estates is located near the historic market town of Petworth, and is run by a small team who champion homegrown English produce.
Its Roebuck Estates classic cuvée 2014 (Roebuck Estates, £35) is a multiple award-winning pale straw-coloured, sparkling wine and was only the second release from the winery, yet has won accolades in the industry and from reviewers at Indybest.
It’s both rich and sophisticated, with delicate bubbles and great balance. You get sumptuous citrus fruit on the nose – think bitter orange and fresh lemons, along with cooked apples that lead to a toasty taste with hints of truffle. It goes very well with mussels or scallops.
South Downs vineyard, Bolney, has been overseen by three generations of the same family and has excelled in the production of bacchus, a grape designed for more temperate climes, which has proven to thrive in the English wine scene.
It’s won awards such as UK Wine Producer of the Year 2012 in the International Wine and Spirit Competition and Winery of the Year 2017 at the UK Wine Awards.
If you need more convincing, try it yourself. We’d recommend the lychgate bacchus (Bolney, £14.99) with refreshing notes of elderflower and gooseberry, sweet pineapple and grapefruit to enjoy in the garden on a summer's day.
The family-run Ridgeview estate is situated in the South Downs National Park, boasting picturesque scenery and making award-winning wines, since it began in 1995.
The vineyard uses traditional champagne methods and produces wines that are regularly served at Buckingham Palace.
Its sold more than a quarter of a million bottles across the world if you needed any persuading to try a glass and we'd recommend the Ridgeview Fitzrovia rosé (Waitrose, £35) from our guide to the best English sparkling wines.
Perfect for summer drinking, this chardonnay's heavy blend of delicate salmon coloured fizz is both vibrant and creamy. With plenty of raspberry, citrus and honey, it is versatile wine that goes as well with summer pudding as it does with seafood.