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When imagining a sun-soaked vineyard experience offering the finest local food and wine, the United Kingdom may not immediately spring to mind. But visiting one of these wineries might subvert your expectations.

Until recently, touring a sunlit vineyard fell under the ‘not on these rainy shores’ category of day out. However, thanks to recent bounds in United Kingdom-produced wine, Britain’s winery scene has bloomed – and we’re now seeing the rise of the vineyard restaurant.

According to WineGB, visitor numbers to British vineyards were up 17 percent between 2021 and 2022, and a survey by VisitBritain found that 42 percent of inbound tourists said they would enjoy a visit to a British winery.

And while most vineyards offer a cafe or cheese board in some capacity, only a handful have invested in full-scale, five-star restaurants that are as much of a pull as the vineyards themselves.

Most are based in the south of England (due to obvious climatic reasons), but there are a couple of good ones further afield – like the bistro at Llanerch Vineyard in Wales. So, if you’re looking to be vined and dined in the United Kingdom, here are five of the country’s best winery restaurants.

Tillingham has history. There’s been a farm here since the 13th century, surrounded by 28 hectares of sheep-dotted hills, ancient woodland, and – since 2016 – 40,000 vines. Its brightly bottled wines are organic and low intervention, with some aged in a Qvevri – a huge stone pot used by Georgian winemakers for the last 7,000 years.

The restaurant is in a converted barn with a south-facing terrace looking over the ambling vines. For the best views, book the private dining room. And unsurprisingly, for a menu created by ex-Silo chef Brendan Eades, it was awarded a Michelin green star in 2021. Despite changing every day, plates always feature Tillingham-reared produce – for example mutton, caramelized cream and smoked pink firs – and come dinner time, you’ll be there for a full six courses.

Fragrant wildflower meadows, bulbs of pesto-lashed burrata, and you, frolicking through a vineyard to taste the sparkling wine British Airways now serves instead of Champagne in its first-class lounges. If this sounds like your dream day out, set your navigation in the direction of Wiston Estate.

Its alfresco restaurant champions a sustainable approach to food and farming, with a menu by chef Tom Kemble – who won a Michelin star at Mayfair’s Bonhams in 2015. His dishes use seasonal and hyperlocal produce from the estate and neighboring suppliers – try the mushroom gnocchi or pesto burrata.

You’ve only been able to taste Rathfinny wines since 2018, but the vineyard has already got one of the most comprehensive restaurant offerings in the United Kingdom. Of the three available, The Tasting Room is the most luxurious – and sustainable (the entire vineyard is a certified B Corp and powered by renewable energy).

Everything you eat is elevated, elegant and designed to pair with Rathfinny’s renowned sparkling wines. Plus, on selected dates in August, special long-table, barbecue-themed dinners take place in the vineyards themselves.

Staying on a vineyard in Wales? It’s possible – as Llanerch has proved since the 80s. The hotel is based around a whitewashed farmhouse that has been tastefully decked with wine-themed decor, with the corresponding vineyard producing a good selection of whites and rosés.

However, the bistro is where Llanerch excels. It’s a stunner of a restaurant, with the vineyard on one side and an open kitchen on the other – neither of which you’ll be looking at by the time the food arrives, which is seasonal stuff to the tune of pan-fried wood pigeon, tomato tartine and langoustine ravioli.

If it’s English sparkling wine you want, you must go to Ridgeview. The first vines were planted about 30 years ago, when the idea of good English wine was laughable. Now, its sparkling varieties have won countless awards.

Its restaurant is a bit more casual than the others listed here, with most plates coming in around US$12.60. However, you can still order Blanc de Blancs – Ridgeview’s award-winning answer to Champagne – or the likes of local, wild pan-fried sea bass and confit duck leg adorned with a cherry compote.

This story was first published by Quintessentially and is republished with kind permission. For more information, please go to Quintessentially.com or email corporatemembership@quintessentially.com
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