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Vineyards in Essex and Wine Tasting

I bet you didn’t know there are 55 vineyards in Essex. Specifically, the Crouch Valley area has the greatest number of vineyards to area ratio than any other part of the UK.

I discovered this on a press trip hosted through Visit Essex. On a beautiful sunny summer day, I had the chance to visit three vineyards in Essex and enjoyed a wine tasting at each.


You might be surprised to know that the biggest reason why all these vineyards exist in this area of England is because it has many similarities to areas of Europe which have perfect growing conditions to produce quality wines.

These attributes include:

  • its proximity to the river Crouch
  • heavy clay soil which retains moisture and nutrients
  • dry sunny climates

And let’s just stop to think about that last fact. ‘Dry sunny climates

You read it right. As someone who created a brand titled ‘Sunny in London‘- even I had no idea the weather was so amazing in Essex. Most people don’t associate this area of England with picturesque blue skies. Rather, they think of a reality tv show that isn’t synonymous with serious culture.

To further emphasise how gorgeous the weather is in Essex, I have only adjusted the photos in this article for cropping. No colour adjustments or filters are added. I took them all with my iPhone 13- while whole heartedly participating in all the wine tasting at the three vineyards in Essex.

That might be the reason I’ve had to straighten the images a little!


Reasons Why Vineyards in Essex are Booming

Geology, geography and adaptability are important reasons why vineyards in Essex are becoming known for producing new world wines. The area is the warmest and driest part of England. It’s also surrounded on three sides by water. There was even a stretch of three months recently in which it had no rain!


I made this trip just two weeks after visiting the Champagne region of France. If you have images of travel that include driving along roads and seeing vineyards just beyond your car window- you don’t have to fly to Spain or take Eurostar to France for them.


Save yourself the time and money. If you live in London like me, it’s an easy trip from Liverpool Street on Greater Anglia trains. In fact, the train journey they provided for the press trip was another highlight of my experience. They’re easily the cleanest and nicest trains I have travelled on within Britain.

But it’s not just the natural elements that make it possible for a new industry to emerge in this region.

It’s the attitude of the farmers and agricultural leaders that deserve credit too. Throughout the day when I visited the three vineyards in Essex, I noticed that the hosts’ positive spirit and eagerness to learn and adapt to a changing world drives the real success behind English wines being on the rise and taken seriously.

Vineyards in Essex- Clayhill Vineyard

Clayhill Vineyard was our first stop after a short drive from Burnham-on-Crouch station. This vineyard in Essex had a cafe and deck which overlooked the beautiful vineyard. As we arrived, there was a couple already there enjoying wine outside. They indicated their daughter has booked the venue for her upcoming wedding.

Dale Symons, a gentleman known throughout the area for wearing shorts on most occasions, gave us a short but thorough presentation on the the Crouch Valley vineyards history and climate. He indicated that regional farmers have had to shift from farming wheat and barley to vines in order to maintain success on their land.

His vineyard produces 100,000 bottles of wine. They are only sold at the vineyard. He then provided our group of journalists a wine tasting of his Sauvignon Blanc. This particular bottle sells for £9.50, which is very affordable.


Generally, I drink red wines, if I am not having sparkling wine. However, this light and refreshing wine is delicious- especially on a hot summer day.

The wines from this area are meant to drink young and fresh.

Vineyards in Essex- Crouch Ridge Vineyard

Our second stop included touring Crouch Ridge Vineyard. We had a fantastic lunch there while listening to a sommelier conduct our wine tasting.

Ross and Samantha Lonergan are 5th generation farmers at Althorne Hall Farm and set up a vineyard on-site in 2010. Their first harvest took place in 2015. The vineyard now boasts 15 acres of vines.

However, I found the accommodations they offer to be the true unique selling point at this location in comparison to the other two vineyards in Essex.

We took a ‘room tour’ of one of their two bedroom apartments in a refurbished barn.


They also have a very modern five bedroom location that would be ideal for a group of couples seeking a wine holiday in England. If you want an easy experience in which you can concentrate on good food and wine and avoid crowds even during peak travel seasons- you must research further what they offer.


While speaking to Samantha, I learned that you can hire a private chef to cook or barbecue for you during your visit. You can also have a sommelier available for that final touch of elegance and sophistication on a holiday to vineyards in Essex.



After the tour of their beautiful accommodations, our wine tasting included three of their wines as well as a gin made from grapes. I have a feeling the complimentary bottle they sent home with me won’t see the start of English Wine Week (17-25 June 2023).


Vineyards in Essex- New Hall Wine Estate

Finally we travelled to New Hall Wine Estate, which is one of the oldest family-run vineyards in Essex and the UK.

Lucy Winward greeted us, along with a beautifully set table for our wine tasting.


Before sitting we were able to take a tour of their facility, which reminded me a lot of what I saw at Lanson a few weeks before in France.

Lanson Champagne house tour in Reims, France
New Hall Wine Estate

However, we also had the chance to see yeast being added to sparkling wine. This was truly an interesting sight!


New Hall Wine Estate was one of the first vineyards to be planted in the UK. They’ve recently won a silver medal for their Bacchus 2021 vintage in the London Wine Competition. They’re hosting their 2023 Open Days on 23rd and 24th June from 11am-3pm to celebrate English Wine Week.

Their Cellar Door Shop is open 6 days a week (Monday to Saturday), where visitors can try free samples and buy New Hall’s award-winning wines.

What’s Next for Vineyards in Essex:

Councillor Mark Durham, Chair of Visit Essex, spent the day with our journalist group as we toured vineyards in Essex. His lovely wife accompanied him. They both are very passionate and genuine about their interest in promoting this area of England for tourism.

Given the amount of press I have seen recently on this area and the efforts they are making to communicate this hidden gem in England, I feel it’s an emerging hotspot for holidays in England. This would be for both foreign holiday makers and domestic.

For those in England frustrated with airline travel, crowds in overly saturated cities and cost of living limitations, a grape fuelled holiday to vineyards in Essex could be the answer.

If you aren’t convinced yet of where English Wines are going, here are some final facts about Crouch Valley which I hope uncork your curiosity.

Independent English Wine Awards:

  • New Hall Wine Estate- two silver awards for their Barons Lane Red 2021 and Barons Lane Rose 2021 and the bronze award for their Barons Lane White 2021
  • Crouch Ridge vineyard- bronze for their 2021 Chardonnay

Learn More About Vineyards in Essex:

I’d love to return to learn more about vineyards in Essex and other activities happening in the region to share it with you on the Sunny News YouTube channel. However, you can check out my TikTok, Instagram and Facebook accounts to see short videos of the experience.

And, if you don’t want to miss any updates about what’s hot in London, be sure to subscribe to the Sunny News email.

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