Yet most English vineyard owners know they’ll never compete with the likes of France and Australia commercially – they’re simply not big enough.

Instead they rely on turning their petite vineyards into visitor attractions.

How they might compete with the vineyards in the world’s more famous wine regions is with a little slice of Englishness.

In the east of England, with its thriving local food economy and idyllic countryside, you can potter from vineyard to farmer’s shop, passing manor houses, thatched cottages and fields of sunshine yellow rape seed. Tuscany, eat your heart out.

To the manor born 

If you imagine vineyards in England, they would look like Wyken Vineyards in Suffolk: perfect south-facing slopes backed by ancient woodland on one side and rolling green hills on the other.

What’s more, they share the estate with an Elizabethan manor house and elegant gardens. Sample the wines at the Leaping Hare, the on-site country store and café where the food is to die for. See

Green and pleasant land

The wind turbines that greet you at Carter’s Vineyards are a telltale sign the emphasis here is on green wine production: electricity from the turbines, water from a well, and the vines get all the juice they need from the sun.

“We’ve stuck our heads above the parapet and said ‘we’re as good as you mate’,” says Mary Mudd of the vines she planted in this little corner of Essex 20 years ago.

For £4 you can test her theory in the tasting barn or grab a bottle to take with you on a trail through woodlands, lakes and wild flower meadows. See

Laidback Leisure

“We’re trying to be a small visitor attraction as opposed to a wine theme park,” Tom Jarrett tells us as we arrive at Shawsgate Vineyard near the pretty market town of Framlingham.

To this effect, tours of the vineyard are conducted by one of four chief winemakers and aimed at taking the snobbery out of wine.

But you can also grab a map and wander through the seven grape varieties yourself, before trying some of the award-winning wines, all free of charge.


The secret garden

In the heart of the Suffolk countryside is the impressive Ickworth House, built according to the whims of the eccentric fourth Earl of Bristol.

Now part hotel, part National Trust estate, you can explore the earl’s art collection in the rotunda, and then stroll through the huge expanse of parkland.

Wander far enough and you’ll find the Ickworth vineyard tucked away in a walled garden leading down to a summer house and water lily pond. Rub your eyes to check you’re not still looking at a painting. 

» Amy Adams travelled to Suffolk with East of England Tourism.

Out and about 

The Greene King Brewery

You can continue the booze theme of your trip by learning how real beer is produced on a tour of this historic working brewhouse in Bury St Edmunds.

Framlingham Castle

This 12th century fortress was once a refuge for Mary Tudor, but its main attraction today is the fantastic views you get by scaling its historic ramparts.

St George’s Distillery

The first dedicated whisky distillery in England in over a century is still a year off its inaugural batch of whisky, but you can take a tour
and taste the nearly matured spirit. See