Hannah Crosbie on the local vineyards to visit now
With record-breaking temperatures and long stretches of sunshine, this summer has felt like it might just roll on forever. And, because we’re vowing not to take any moment of it for granted, we asked writer, podcaster and founder of Dalston Wine Club Hannah Crosbie to recommend the British vineyards we have to visit before the sun sets on this season. Here are her top picks on home soil, along with a few tasty tipples to look out for next time you’re in the wine aisle…
Stopham Winery, Sussex
You’d be forgiven for driving right past Stopham. Hidden inside a small barn in the Sussex countryside, the only thing that gives it away is the glint of its steel fermentation vessels at the door. Walk a few minutes down a dirt path, however, and you’re surrounded by vines. Intimate tours are available, as well as a full wine tasting. You can also choose to add in a pub lunch at the nearby White Hart. There are worse ways to spend a sunny Saturday.
Oxney Organic Estate, Kent
Oxney is another intimate Sussex affair. As you roll up to the vineyard, you’re greeted by a twee building slatted with black wood, a modest winery around the back of the even cosier bottle shop. But their size isn’t everything – they’re the largest single-estate producer of organic wine in England. Enjoy an intimate tasting on-site with Frida, the vineyard dog, at your feet. Stay overnight in one of their shepherd’s huts or nearby cottages.
Dwarfing both Oxney and Stopham, Rathfinny is one of the Goliaths of Sussex sparkling wine. The vineyard rolls into view as you climb its hill, and you only reach the winery a few minutes later. Rathfinny are masters of Sussex sparkling. There’s also a gorgeous restaurant that overlooks the vines, offering picnics in summer and fine dining year-round. Share a snap of their cherry red umbrellas against the blue sky to induce instant holiday-envy.
Ancre Hill, Monmouth, Wales
A little further out than the other producers I’ve mentioned, but just as worth a visit: Ancre Hill vineyard is set in the beautiful Welsh countryside of Monmouthshire. They work with traditional British varieties for both sparkling and still wines, with the occasional focus on more funky expressions – their Triomphe Pét-Nat is to die for.
Tillingham, East Sussex
Finally, a name we’re all familiar with – and for good reason. Every season, the cool London crowd descends on this winery that’s just a stone’s throw from Rye. Tillingham are known for their striking designs and delicious wines – with a decided focus on skin-contact wines and all things pet-nat (they make ciders too). Visit for a wine tour and stay for a pizza, or an incredible meal in their on-site restaurant.
Pour a glass of this…
Need some inspo for your next bring-a-bottle dinner party? We asked Hannah for her current favourites.
Blanc de Noirs, 2018, Sussex – Rathfinny
Ask any English winemaker for the best vintage in recent memory, they’ll say 2018. Blanc de Noirs denotes a sparkling wine made from dark skinned grape – in this case, 100% Pinot Noir. Discover notes of blueberry crumble and citrus fruit on the finish.
Bourgogne Aligoté Mallon, 2019, Côtes de Nuits, Burgundy – Domaine Henri Naudin-Ferrand
This bottle is liquid proof that Aligoté deserves its time in the spotlight. Notes of fresh citrus, dill and toasted marshmallow glide across the palate. Chill this well before serving.
Kiss Kiss Maddie’s Lips, 2020, Mosel, Germany – Staffelter Hof
This sherbety pink wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Madeleine. It usually sells out the second it’s dropped, so if you find it on a wine list and you’re sat al fresco, do yourself a favour.
Triomphe, 2021, Wales – Ancre Hill
As mentioned, this is one of the bottles I’ll be reaching for when the sun comes out. A sparkling red of 100% Triomphe, expect vibrant, juicy notes of sour cherry and red summer berries.