An abundance of orchards and vineyards offer visitors a remarkable choice of top-class wines and ciders
World-class wineries and centuries-old cider orchards; Ashford and Tenterden are ideal locations for connoisseurs to tour.
Here, a remarkable concentration of award-winning drinks producers are clustered in a remarkably compact space. Tenterden makes an ideal base. No fewer than four vineyards, one with an acclaimed restaurant, sit within an 8-mile radius, tucked in among the Weald's lush fields. Leave a least a day to explore a few; better still turn your tour of the vineyards into a gourmet short break.
Chapel Down Winery is often credited with helping lead the renaissance of English wines. Its vintages regularly win prestigious awards, satisfying the palates of sommeliers and wine-buffs world-wide. Look out for its classy sparking wines, whites, roses and red; while its gold medal-winning lagers keep Kentish beer-making traditions alive. See how it's done on a tour of Chapel Down's well-drained acres, pick up some goodies at its luxury food store then experience fine dining at its atmospheric Swan restaurant.
A mere 15 minute drive away, more awards line the walls at Biddenden Vineyards, Kent's oldest commercial winery and the county’s largest producer of ciders and apple juice. Fruits from its gentle, south-facing slopes are transformed into acclaimed still and sparkling whites, roses and red, while 20 years' worth of experience goes into making its tangy traditional ciders, and farm-pressed apple and pear juice. Drink it all in on a winery tour.
From Biddenden, it's just 30 minutes' motoring to another Kentish gem: Gusbourne Vineyard near Appledore. You have to book a visit or a tour here, but it's worth it. Ranks of Champagne clone vines line up on scores of sunny hectares. Add a warm, dry micro-climate and the talents of skilled producers and you have the recipe for trophy-winning sparkling wines.
Then there's Harbourne Vineyard, just 7 miles west at Wittersham. This small, traditional family-run winery proudly produces vintages using minimal intervention, winning praise for its eco-credentials, and the quality of its handmade wine. Harbourne can’t provide tours, but its shop is open most afternoons.
And nearby you'll find the beautiful Hush Heath Estate hidden away in the glorious Kent countryside. Hush Heath are known for their award-winning sparkling wines, still wines and ciders Take a self-guided walk, join a guided tour and stop for a spot of lunch with a pre-ordered picnic.