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Cheers! Local vineyards you’ll love

It's English Wine Week (18-25 June) and Essex has some corking, fizz-friendly vineyards where you can pick up some local plonk and celebrate!

Mersea Island Vineyard

Vineyard, brewery, cafe, bed and breakfast, shop and even a wedding venue – there’s much more to this idyllic spot than simply some vines. Four wines are produced here: Island Dry, Mehalah, Summer Days and Blush, which you can enjoy during a tasting overlooking the vines and sea (no booking necessary).

Stand-out sip: I’m partial to the Island Dry, a crisp white wine with citrus notes, made from the vineyard’s Reichensteiner grapes. It’s perfect with fish and seafood, which is handy as Mersea’s the epicentre of Essex’s oyster production – go for lunch at The Company Shed, an award-winning seafood restaurant selling Mersea Island Vineyard wine to wash it down with.

Saffron Grange Vineyard

A family-run vineyard nestled in the south-facing slopes that skirt the historic market town of Saffron Walden, Saffron Grange sits on the same chalk seam that runs all the way to northern France’s renowned wine region. In short, it’s plonked on some seriously top-stock soil and SG’s premium grapes are proof in the dessert-wine pudding. Tours and tastings run from April to October, and are available by pre-appointment only.

Stand-out sip: The new Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé – a luxurious rose-gold brut wine made from 100 per cent pinot noir grapes, with a hint of white pepper spice.

PrettyFields Vineyard

You can have a guided tour, wine tasting and lunch beside the vines at this scenic spot near Ardleigh, which produces four wines and a sparkling Brut to boot. Grape varieties include Pinot Noir, Bacchus and Chardonnay and it costs £25 to book a tasting and lunch in advance – we can’t think of many better ways to spend a sunny summer afternoon!

Stand-out sip: Its coral pink Rosé is summer in a bottle. Medium-dry with fragrances of gardenia, raspberry and lychee, it’s delicious and we recommend packing one in your picnic.

Crouch Ridge Vineyard

Planted on gentle south-facing slopes overlooking Althorne Creek near Burnham-on-Crouch, Crouch Ridge sits on 10 acres of vines, the first 2,700 of which were planted back in 2012. Since then, owners Ross and Samantha Lonergan have planted a further 9,900 Pinot and Chardonnay crops, which now produce top-quality still and sparkling wines. Don’t believe us? Head down there and take a look: Crouch Ridge runs a number of tasting and tour options, including a private Vineyard Buggy Tour & Sparkling Picnic (yes, please!).

Stand-out sip: Clean, elegant with crunchy English apples, lemon and peach flavours, the vineyard’s Blanc de Blancs Brut is an Independent English Wine Awards Bronze-medal winner. Need we say more?

New Hall Vineyards

A family-run English wine producer with more than 100 acres of vines, New Hall is a well-established vineyard in Purleigh, Chelmsford, that’s been running since 1969 – making it one of England’s oldest. Cue a slew of awards and robust tour, tastings, and events programme, which even includes its own wine festival on the first weekend of September each year. Whether you’re just passing and fancy a nose (pun unapologetically intended), or you’re pumped for an info-heavy private tour, New Hall has you covered. 

Stand-out sip: The New Hall Signature 2017 – a dry white wine produced from a blend of early-ripening varieties including Pinot Gris, Ortega and Chardonnay. Acidity is low, complex flavours are high (hello, lychee and yellow apple).

West Street Vineyard

A boutique operation in Colchester, this stylish winery comes complete with a foodie-favourite fine-dining restaurant and a local celeb following to boot (TOWIE’s Pete Wicks is known to frequent). Wine-wise, the selection is small but perfectly formed: think a crisp 2018 white with citrus notes; a dry blush-pink rosé with a trace of strawberries and cream; a sparkling white wine with hints of apple; and light 100 per cent Pinot Noir red that’s ideal served slightly chilled.

Stand-out sip: Our money’s on the fruit-fuelled Sparkling White Wine for a smart hit of bubbles.

Clayhill Vineyard & Cafe

Stretched across a coastal peninsula between the rivers Crouch and Blackwater, this beautiful vineyard in the village of Latchingdon, south of Chelmsford, slopes down to the Crouch Vale and serves up light bites with tastings and tours. Sit outside to drink in the views (and home brews) or head into the Wine Barn for a slice of something sweet to team with your Essex-corked Chardonnay. 

Stand-out sip: Pinot Noir. Rich, fruity and full of flavour, this is one of the vineyard’s original plantings and it’s still going strong.

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