East England

Essex vineyards are relatively under the radar. And yet this is THE region for quality still English wine. Find out what makes Essex so special.

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Essex is a county in the East of England with a coastline that stretches along the North Sea from Harwich to Southend on Sea (which by the way is the largest city in the county).  There are around 50 Essex vineyards, and they are peppered across the region from Saffron Grange in the northwest to Great Whitman’s Vineyard in the south. Whilst many counties like Kent and Sussex have built their wine making credentials on English Sparkling Wine, Essex vineyards are fast developing a reputation for English still wine production. Put Crouch Valley in the south of the county on your radar: it’s one of the regions to watch. More on that later.

Simon Huntington Marasby co founder at Newhall Vineyard Essex vineyards

What grapes are grown in Essex Vineyards?

New Hall Vineyard, which was established in 1969 is one of the oldest commercial vineyards in the country. It first planted Reichensteiner, followed by Huxelrebe and Müller-Thurgau – classic German varietals that could be found throughout the UK from the 1970s onwards.   These vines were popular because they are specifically suited to cooler, wetter climates.  Many Essex vineyards subsequently expanded on this theme and leant into Bacchus, another German grape that ripens early. It thrived in the UK climate and became the dominant grape for English still wine – it’s even considered by some to be England’s signature still white wine grape.

However, in the super-fast paced world of English wine, Essex vineyards in regions like Crouch Valley where New Hall is based have been planting the “noble” grape varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir alongside Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris.  The area is warm enough most years to produce grapes that are ripe enough for quality still English wine as well as English Sparkling Wine. And this is exciting news if you love a glass of Pinot Noir.

Is Essex a good wine producing region?

You won’t see many medals on wines from Essex vineyards, but don’t let that fool you. Many vineyards, such as the exciting Martin’s Lane only use a small proportion of their fruit for their own winemaking. The rest is sent to other producers around the country. Indeed, Lyme Bay in Devon uses Chardonnay from Crouch Valley for its multi award winning still wine. And in 2022 Vagabond Urban Winery won a platinum medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards and became the highest scoring English wine ever – with a Chardonnay made from Essex grapes. It sold out in weeks.

There is no doubt this is complicated. If you buy a wine from Devon, you’d be forgiven for thinking the grapes were grown in Devon. But that not is not always the case.  Under current guidelines producers can source their grapes from across the UK and they don’t need to state where they come from. However, things are changing. The recent Sussex PDO means that anyone using the Sussex PDO must make wines with grapes grown within East and West Sussex. It remains to be seen if Essex vineyards will follow suit and attempt to classify their own county or indeed sub regions such as Crouch Valley.  In the meantime, Essex is still under the radar and it can be hard to find, especially in the supermarket. That’s why we’ve designed a simple filter to help you find all wines being made anywhere in the UK using Essex fruit. Explore Essex wines on Marasby Market. 

Riverview Crouch Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 2021 vintage

What makes Essex Vineyards so good for wine production?

Read Marasby Co-founder Simon Huntington’s great article for The Buyer on how Essex became the go to region for quality English grapes.


Essex is one of the warmest, driest parts of the UK. The annual average temperature over the last 20 years has increased by a degree and this gives parts of Essex enough warmth over a long enough period to ripen grapes for still wine making.    Those Essex vineyards close enough to the River Crouch can also benefit from frost protection which will protect the buds during key times in the growing season.


In English Sparkling Wine regions it’s all about the chalk, but in Essex vineyards it’s the story of London clay. As Marasby co-founder, Simon Huntington, explains “clay soils are often water loggged and this is not good for vines. But in the drier eastern parts of England this has not been so much of a problem. Certain types of clay soils swell and hold water on the surface which protects the roots.  And other types crack when dry which enables the roots to surge through and absorb the minerals. This in turn can produce better grapes for better wine making.”

Simon Huntington, Marasby Co-founder

Simon Huntington Selects

Wines from Essex

Marasby co-founder Simon Huntington has tasted hundreds of bottles of English wine. These are a few of his favourites from Essex. At the time of writing they are all available to buy direct from the winery on Marasby Market. But hurry many of these are tiny quantities and sell out fast.

Gutter&Stars Lost in You Bacchus 21 £23

Missing Gate Pinot Blanc 21 £25

Freedom of the Press Paradox White Pinot Noir  21 £28.50 

Lyme Bay Pinot Noir 21 £29.99

Riverview Crouch Valley Chardonnay 21 £36