The Best Vineyards in the Cotswolds
Wine lovers, leave your passports at home. There are plenty of vineyards to visit right here in the Cotswolds. That's right – our district isn't just blessed with rolling hills and pretty villages. It turns out that our limestone-rich soil is perfect for growing juicy, flavourful grapes. Côtes du Rhône? Never heard of it. Here are four vineyards in the Cotswolds where you can see British viticulture in action.
Little Oak Vineyard
We can sum up what makes Little Oak Vineyard special in just one word: 'siegerrebe'.
Siegerrebe is a grape variety that's famed for its intense flavour. It's spicy, musky and has a delightful tinge of marzipan. It's also rather difficult to grow successfully in the UK.
But that hasn’t stopped Little Oak from mastering this troublesome fruit. The result is a white wine that's subtle, complex and entirely unique – because, according to the owners, siegerrebe grows very differently in the UK compared to other, more hospitable climes.
Quality and simplicity are the names of the game at Little Oak. This Cotswolds vineyard produces just two types of wine, along with occasional batches of brandy. There's the aforementioned white wine, plus a crisp, refreshing sparkling wine made of seyval blanc grapes. (Blended with just a little siegerrebe. Because why not?)
Want to try them for yourself? Head to Chipping Camden for a vineyard tour and wine tasting. Pre-booked visitors are welcome throughout the year.
Poulton Hill Estate
Poulton Hill is on a mission. This modest, family-run Cotswolds vineyard wants to put our winemaking industry on the map – and it’s gone so far as to register the name 'Bulari' as a catch-all term for British bubbly.
Is it working? It would seem so. Poulton's flagship Bulari Brut has won several top-tier awards, including a Silver Medal at WineGB West in 2019.
Citizen sommeliers are quick to commend it too, with one online critic labelling it a 'gorgeous alternative to Champagne'. High praise indeed.
In total, the winery has scooped an impressive 43 awards, nominations and commendations. Among the most notable are Best Family-Run Vineyard at the Lux Global Excellence Awards and Best Vineyard in the Cotswolds at the Cotswolds Concierge Awards.
Is there something in the water? You'll have to sip it and see. Join Poulton Hill for a vineyard tour and wine-tasting session on selected dates from June to September.
Woodchester Valley has made headlines recently. The Cotswolds vineyard bagged a coveted Master medal at the Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters – an international wine competition judged by a panel of expert sommeliers.
The triumph is doubly impressive when you consider that sauvignon blanc simply isn't supposed to grow in the UK. This zesty grape might thrive in France's Loire Valley, but it struggles in our cold, wet climate – and, consequently, makes up just 0.45% of Britain's annual wine yield.
Lesson learned. If Woodchester's winemakers can brew the world's best sauvignon blanc – and in England, of all places – then they must be experts in their field.
The good news is that you can visit their field – literally – and learn some of their winemaking secrets. Woodchester Valley offers tours of its 58-acre estate, where you'll visit the vineyard and taste some of its award-winning wines. Just be sure to book in advance as walk-ins are not allowed.
Compared to most other vineyards in the Cotswolds, Larkhill is just a baby. It planted its first vines in 2018 and saw its first harvest in 2020. At the time of writing, the winery has only just released its first batch of bubbly.
Why have we included it on our list, then? Because, right now, Larkhill produces some of the most exclusive wines in the UK. If you want to taste them for yourself, you'll have to visit the vineyard and buy your bottles – in person – direct from the cellar door.
Or, better yet, take a tour. You'll enjoy a laid-back, informative talk from Larkhill's owners and taste some of its soon-to-be-famous sparkling wines. Cheese and crudités are a welcome bonus.
Technically speaking, Welcombe Hills isn't a Cotswolds vineyard. Nestled among its namesake hills close to Stratford-Upon-Avon, this veteran winery is just a few miles too far north.
But we're not here to split hairs. We're here to crush grapes and drink great wine – and Welcombe's wine is worthy of any sommelier's shortlist. Just look at its customer reviews and you'll soon get the picture. 'Very tasty', says one. 'Amazing', extols another.
You might be surprised, then, to learn that Welcombe's winemaking operation kind of happened by accident. In 2017, Nichola and Jonathan Kelsey bought a Warwickshire farmhouse that just happened to come with a working vineyard.
Thankfully for us, the couple kept the vines growing and the wine flowing. Now, a few vintages later, the winery has bagged plenty of praise and an armful of trophies – including a Silver Medal at the Independent English Wine Awards
We won't spoil the rest of the story here, though. To hear it in full, you'll have to visit Welcombe Hills in person. The vineyard offers guided tours on selected dates from May to September.
Ready to visit these vineyards in the Cotswolds?
You'll be tired after a long day of wining and vining. So why not turn your Cotswolds vineyard adventure into a wine-tasting holiday?
You could book a stay at Cotswold Grange, drive out to visit a vineyard or two and then return to a comfy room and a warm welcome. (And perhaps a cheeky glass of pinot noir…)
You'll find our historic hotel in a leafy suburb called Pittville, just north of Cheltenham town centre. This makes it the perfect base from which to explore our local vineyards.
Plus, you'll have free rein of our smart, modern restaurant and cosy bar, as well as the many local boutiques, galleries and independent eateries.
Cotswolds vineyards, here we come…