Places to Visit in Essex Hedingham Castle
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Places to Visit in Essex

Interested in food and drink related things to do in England? If you’re a super foodie like me, then I have a few places to visit in Essex for you.

Yes, you read that right.

Essex is booming right now, especially for those who love wine travel. Vineyards in Essex are now a place for tourism. They account for 32% of total vineyard income in the East. And there are some other really mind-blowing numbers about the area that I will highlight later.

If you live in London or are visiting here, a day trip to Essex is something you’ll want to do soon so you aren’t the last person to experience the juicy opportunities!

Places to Visit in Essex Saffron Grange

I went to check out places to visit in Essex for wine and drink lovers just before English Wine Week this year.

From walking through a prestigious vineyard to touring a castle and sampling their newly launched gin, I had a lovely day in this area just outside London.

Places to Visit in Essex

Places to Visit in Essex- Vines in Essex

If you’re a regular Sunny in London reader or follow me on social media, you’ll know that vineyard tours are a common activity on my travel itineraries. In the past few years Mr Sunny and I have toured them in Bordeaux, Rioja and Champagne.

Previously, I have visited wineries in Napa Valley, New York and Hawaii.

The common theme I hear when touring English vineyards features the owners’ learning experience in comparison to the ‘centuries’ of historic practice that is such a prevalent topic on continental tours.

And while English vineyard owners admittedly are humble about their recent wine making journeys, they clearly possess winning recipes when you consider their success rates. This is especially true in Essex.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to prove this.

  • Essex is the 5th largest grower of grapes in the UK and have the largest producer in the Eastern region
  • Wine is one of the UK’s fastest growing industries
  • 20-22 million bottles of wine were produced in 2023 due to a bumper crop attributed to a wet summer and a hot September
  • The Eastern region harvested 10.23 tonnes of grapes per hectare, doubling the previous highest yield in 2022

Given these impressive statistics and the previous year’s experience on a wine tour, I couldn’t wait to return to this region in England to visit even more locations!

Places to Visit in Essex Saffron Grange

Saffron Grange Vineyard

After an easy train journey from Liverpool Station to Audley End, we were driven to Saffron Grange vineyard. This location kicked off our day as we learned about their sparkling wines.

The vineyard has many accolades for its wine, including a Bronze Decanter World Wine award in 2023 for its Classic Cuvée Brut 2019.

We had a thorough tour of the vineyards with several members of the Edwards family, who are the owners. It’s a family-run vineyard and is on the outskirts of Saffron Walden.

Places to Visit in Essex Saffron Grange

Then we had a tasting of four of their sparkling wines, which were each exceptional. Choosing a favourite is not possible. Each has a fresh, delightful range of character and a beautifully balanced aroma. If you visit, you can book a Sparkling Wine Tasting too.

We enjoyed the:

  • Sparkling Rosé 2021 (aromas- red berries and rose)
  • Blanc de Noirs (aromas- apricot, toasted almonds, vanilla)
  • Classic Cuvée 2019 (aromas- red berries, red apple, toasted brioche)
  • Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 (aromas- raspberries, rose petals
Places to Visit in Essex Saffron Grange

Their award-winning sparkling wines are available to sample in their Saffron Grange Tasting Room. It’s open Wednesday-Saturday 10am-4pm. They serve bar snacks and cheese and charcuterie boards. Pre-booking is advised.

Aside from tastings and tours, Saffron Grange Vineyard is hosting Seafood Sundays along side Saffron Fish Co this summer. Dates are: 30 June, 28 July, 25 August and 29 September.

A quick look at their social media proves that this is one of the very popular places to visit in Essex for those who love wine experiences. Tickets for wine tours are priced at £25 per person and are available for the 2024 season on their website. They run on Thursdays and Saturdays from April to September.

Hedingham Castle

Next, we made a short journey to Hedingham Castle and had a tour of the historic location with its owner Jason Lindsay.

This venue is not only popular for school visits but also enormously so for weddings. Our views of the garden and breath-taking surroundings quickly proved why.

Places to Visit in Essex Hedingham Castle
Places to Visit in Essex Hedingham Castle

Once completing the tour we learned about their newly launched gin, which had its inception during lockdown. Jason explained how he had ‘an epiphany during lockdown, realising how amazing the castle would look on a square bottle.’ He then aspired to create a top-class gin.

Places to Visit in Essex Hedingham Castle

Places to Visit in Essex Hedingham Castle

He teamed up with Thames Distillers in London. They infused their base gin with handpicked linden flowers which are harvested from lime trees that grow on the castle’s ancient ramparts during a window of just two weeks in the year.

Places to Visit in Essex- Final Thoughts

In addition to these two places to visit in Essex, you’ll find there are many other things to do in Essex which make it a lovely English day trip or holiday destination. Aside from its endless photographic moments which range from gardens to towering castles to stately manors, there are many more things to do in Essex.

Places to Visit in Essex Hedingham Castle

For more things to do, including tours and tastings, go to the Visit Essex website. You can read about my first experience with Vineyards in Essex and Wine Tasting on Sunny in London also.

This trip was coordinated through Visit Essex in preparation for English Wine Week which is from Saturday 15 June-Sunday 23 June 2024.

Our train tickets were provided through Greater Anglia, which operates regular train services between London Liverpool Street and Essex. For the cheapest fares, book direct at www.greateranglia.co.uk or via the Greater Anglia app.

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