Kirsty Woodgate at Crouch Ridge Vineyard in Essex

Brilliant Vineyards To Visit In Essex

The Insiders Itinerary For Essex Vineyard Hopping.

Want to visit brilliant vineyards in Essex? Our friend Kirsty Woodgate can help. Kirsty is a wine guru with a stack of wine qualifications. Better still, she lives in Essex and has all the inside knowledge and practical tips to make your visit run smoothly. So, put on some sensible shoes and let Kirsty show you how to visit three brilliant vineyards in Essex in just one day!

For Brilliant Vineyards, Visit The Crouch Valley In Essex.

The county on everyone’s lips for still English wine right now is Essex.

In particular, the Crouch Valley. Famous for wine, yachting, seals, and salt, you could spend a whole weekend here. Or even a lifetime – I’m a local myself. But if you are visiting for the day, I have put together an insider’s itinerary for vineyard hopping this picturesque segment of Essex (with practical tips at the end).

Kirsty Woodgate at Newhall Vineyard Best vineyards to visit in Essex

Stop 1: Walk The Vineyard Trail At New Hall Vineyard.

Arriving early, start at Essex’s oldest commercial vineyard – New Hall – and soak up the country air as you walk the 1km trail around the estate. You’ll discover vines that are over 50 years old, a covey of energetic grouse, resident sheep and horses, plus a captivating view of a 14th century church perched on a hill (maybe the closest you’ll get to Tuscan views in Essex?)

After your walk, rehydrate at the cellar door for your first drink of the day. The variety at New Hall is impressive – from their quintessential Bacchus to their showstopping Barons Lane range. The latter was created to showcase the very best of New Hall’s microclimate and winemaking style. I particularly love the Barons Lane Red – a perfect field blend of varieties you may never have tasted before.

You’ll be hungry after all that walking and tasting, so travel less than 15 minutes by car up the road to your next stop….

Stop 2: Enjoy Lunch At Crouch Ridge Vineyard.

Crouch Ridge Vineyard has a sunny terrace overlooking the River Crouch. I last visited in November, and even then, it was warm enough to comfortably sit outside.

Their restaurant has an extensive menu of local produce designed specifically to complement their sparkling and still wines. I always order the Ridge Board, which pairs exceptionally well with their Pinot Noir. Most of their wines are available by the glass, or you can pre-book a guided tasting with their in-house sommelier.

The vineyards are strategically planted with three traditional, cool-climate grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Walk through the vines and you’ll be at the River Crouch, a haven for wildlife.

After lunch, hop back in the car for your next stop. You’re not travelling far, but do not walk along the main road, the path disappears, and it is not safe!

Dale Symons founder Clay Hill Vineyard in Essex best vineyards to visit in essex
Dale Symons, owner Clayhill Vineyard in Crouch Valley

Stop 3:  Relax At Clayhill Vineyard.

Clayhill Vineyard is the perfect spot to close your day of wine tasting. Much like Crouch Ridge, you’ll find a viewing terrace and rows of perfectly kept vines on south facing slopes. Many of these grapes are sold to wineries around England who have all recognised the quality of grapes being grown in Essex. The warm climate in the Crouch Valley means they can ripen better than other regions, and suitably ripe grapes mean better wine.

As well as a small wine offering (available by the glass), you’ll see an abundance of beautiful cakes at the counter, and if you’re lucky, you may get to try one of their homemade Essex ‘huffers’. These thick, doughy triangular bread rolls are historically said to sustain farmers out in the field, and you can build yours with comforting fillings.

Perfect for soaking up all that wine before your journey home.

Newhall Vineyard one of the best vineyards to visit in Essex

Read Marasby co-founder Simon Huntington’s blog on why everyone is talking about Essex wine right now.

The Practical Parts

It’s Best To Drive:

Whilst it is possible to take a train from London (Liverpool Street) for the day, I really recommend choosing a designated driver. Parking is available at all sites. And don’t forget to buy a bottle to enjoy when home.

Book A Cab If You Take A Train:

If you do take the train, it is essential to pre-book taxis. I’ll say that again, essential! The nearest station to New Hall is North Fambridge, and Althorne for Clayhill and Crouch Ridge. Or, take the train to Chelmsford or Wickford with a longer taxi ride. The only Oysters around here are the ones you eat, so remember to buy a train ticket for your whole journey.

Opening Times:

Opening hours are seasonal; check websites before planning your day. I’d recommend arriving around 10am to New Hall, 12.30pm to Crouch Ridge, and 3pm to Clayhill.

Let Us Know How You Get On

Have a brilliant day out! And if you use this itinerary to visit the best vineyards in Essex, don’t forget to tag @Marasbygb and @Kirstywoodgate_wine as we would love to see your pictures.

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