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Most of the vineyards that are open to the public offer tours and tastings at weekends over the summer. Others are open all week – this will normally be because the vineyard needs constant tending so people, often the owners themselves, are there anyway and will take a little time off from their duties to talk with you about the wines, offer a taste or two and sell wines where they are able to. The time they take off is rarely begrudged – they wouldn’t be working in a vineyard if they weren’t passionate about it and most love to share that passion, but do remember that they are running a business, so try not to take up too much of their time if you have no intention of buying.
Our seasonal recommendations are as follows:
Vineyards that are open seasonally start to open. How about finding one with a self-guided tour so you can explore the vines at your leisure and then enjoy a tour afterwards?
The beginning of the summer and release of many new vintages happen at English Wine Week. This is usually the last week of May and is a great time to see events at your local vineyard and visit some that are not normally open to the public.
We definitely recommend helping with harvest. Picking grapes isn’t too difficult and more than 30 UK vineyards rely on volunteers. Your assistance will be greatly welcomed, often rewarded with a meal & a bottle of wine afterwards. Come the following year (or a few years for sparkling wine) there’s nothing quite like tasting wine that includes grapes you have picked yourself.
About half of vineyards that are open to the public are open all year, so if you’re feeling hardy or just fancy a tasting, check www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk to find one you fancy. Alternatively there are quite a number with accommodation, even boutique hotels where cosying up by an open fire with a glass of zero-miles wine might appeal.