South East England

Kent vineyards produce world class English Sparkling Wine and the region has a growing reputation for quality English still wine production. It’s no surprise this is the UK’s powerhouse wine county.

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Kent is the powerhouse wine producing county of the UK with just over 25% of all plantings. There are over 50 vineyards in the region and some of the biggest names in the business such as Gusbourne Wine Estate Balfour Wine Estate and Chapel Down.  It’s not surprising really as this sunny, temperate coastal south-eastern county is ideal for the cultivation of grapes.  Explore a fantastic range of wines from Kent vineyards on Marasby Market. 

What grapes are grown in Kent vineyards?

Back in the 1970’s German grape varietals such as Bacchus, Reichensteiner and Ortega were the predominant grapes grown in Kent vineyards.  These vines are specifically suited to cooler, wetter climates. The wines tended towards the sweeter style but they along with the vines that made them rather fell out of fashion. In recent years there has been some bounce back in Kent for the German grape varietals, particularly of Bacchus, which currently accounts for about 8% of UK vineyard plantings. The wines being made today are crisp, floral and refreshing. And the English natural wine scene is also giving the old vines a new lease of life.

However, since the 21st century the focus for the county has been Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier as these are the grapes best suited to the production of Classic Method English Sparkling Wine which is where the big growth in the UK wine market has been over the last 20 years.

Does good wine come from Kent vineyards?

The short answer is yes.  What’s great about Kent is the wide variety of styles that are made here. There is the ultra-slick English Sparkling  range from Gusbourne. The classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produced by Simpsons Wine Estate. And the trendy micro batch of skin contact Ortega made by the much loved Westwell Wine Estate.

Many producers – large and small – hold a cabinet full of international and national trophies and medals.  It’s impossible to name check them all but Gusbourne as it’s the most awarded wine producer in the UK.

Need more convincing? Even the French rate Kent vineyards. Champagne house Taittinger has bought land in Kent and planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier on its newly acquired site to produce Domaine Evremond, Classic Method English Sparkling Wine which will be released in the mid-2020s.

What makes Kent such a good wine producing region?

In simple terms, sun and soil.

Kent is one of the warmest, driest parts of the UK. The annual average temperature over the last 20 years as recorded in Faversham Kent by the Met Office is now 15 degrees – that’s a whole degree warmer than back in the 1970’s and that makes it warm enough to get consistently good harvests of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay for English Sparkling Wine.  With a report published in July 2022* predicting a further rise in temperatures in the next 20 years, there will likely be a big increase in English still wine production, including red wine, across Kent.

There are plenty of south facing, gently rolling slopes in Kent vineyards which is ideal for English vine growth. Soils vary in composition, from clay to sand to shale to chalk.  Importantly, there is land around the North Downs that is the same geological layer as Champagne.

Charles Simpson of Simpson Estate sums it up beautifully: “Having a lot of sunshine hours makes Kent incredibly suitable. The other thing is we are on the chalk hills of the North Downs and chalk is the holy grail of viticultural soil types.  “We have the same soil type as the Champagne region. We couldn’t be in a better place.”

* University of East Anglia (UEA), the London School of Economics, Vinescapes Ltd and Weatherquest Ltd

Where Can I Buy Wines From Kent Vineyards?

Marasby Market connects you to buy wines direct from winemakers at vineyard prices, cutting out the middlemen, and cutting down on wasted packaging and delivery miles. The range includes many of the best Kent vineyards and producers.

If you want to explore the region the best place to start is Wine Garden of England which has great maps and tips for navigating Kent vineyards.

Simon Huntington, Marasby Co-founder

Simon Huntington selects

Wineries in Kent

Marasby co-founder Simon Huntington has tasted hundreds of English wines. Here’s his top 10 producers from Kent.

Heppington Vineyard
Secret Vineyard
Simpsons Wine Estate
Terlingham Vineyard
Westwell Wine Estates
Yotes Court