If you have children and love wine (I wouldn’t dare suggest that the two are linked) you might feel the days of swilling a glass of alcohol and debating its mouthfeel are in the past. However, it needn’t necessarily be so.
For while our national wine industry has been growing in stature, the experience of wine tasting on home soil has also become more refined. In recent years it has been interesting to see our vineyards improve their visitor experience to be more like the superstar wineries of California and South Africa.
Some of our larger UK wineries are family-run, with owners who see the appeal in keeping younger visitors entertained. It also suits smaller vineyards to offer a diverse range of experiences. Recently, at a little vineyard called the Secret Valley in Somerset, we stayed in a lodge with its own hot tub and woke to see dew clinging to the vines. The children met our neighbours that morning – alpacas, donkeys and ponies – while later, we adults enjoyed wine tasting from the comfort of the lodge. Think all the fun of Center Parcs without the hefty price tag.
These sorts of experiences are becoming more common so to celebrate English Wine Week (June 18-26), we have listed eight vineyards that offer fun for families on holiday in the English countryside. So get your family a map and look out for wine tasting flights that you can sample independently, perhaps while the kids have sat down to their own treat or grape juice in the vineyard café. As they say, parenting is all about balance.
For lego building wonders
Denbies Vineyard, Surrey
Depending on when you visit Denbies, little ones could be gazing up at swooping birds of prey or engrossed in building things out of Lego. The wine estate, which is one of the UK’s largest producers, puts on fun-filled events that need to be booked ahead of a visit. Lego sessions take place on occasional Sundays, while a miniature train takes children on a nature trail every Wednesday in summer. It passes scenic viewing points where they can spot everything from bat boxes to badger setts and weasels, ticking off bird sightings on a chart.
Drink: Denbies Greenfields is an award-winning sparkling wine that has baked apple aromas and a toasty character
Stay: Denbies Hotel (01306 876616, denbies.co.uk) is claimed to be carbon neutral, and has garden views and rooms from £155 a night