Top UK and European vineyard stays by train

vineyard by train, Loisium Wine and Spa Resort, Langenlois, Austria
Loisium Wine and Spa Resort, Langenlois, Austria

Autumn is a magical time to visit northern hemisphere vineyards; the vines glow golden and green in the late summer sun, there’s still enough daylight to explore the great outdoors and for many harvest is full swing so the sights, sounds and smells of this annual activity are high in the air.

With UK vineyards and wineries beginning to realise the opportunities that tourism brings, many now offer rooms or guesthouses in amongst the vines, opening up a whole new world to explore for the wine-loving traveller.

Here we take a look at some of the best vineyard stays accessible by train, and as well as the best places to stay in the UK there are many possibilities further afield in mainland Europe, all striking distance from railway stations and easy to get to via Eurostar from London St. Pancras.

So if a quick hop to some of the UK’s most exciting estates, or a day on a train racing through Europe with your feet up, a glass in one hand and a novel in the other, sounds like the perfect autumn getaway, there’s plenty here to inspire you…

Chapel Down, Kent, UK

Nearest station: Headcorn

The Kent winery has teamed up with the local Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast – on the Sissinghurst Castle Gardens National Trust estate – to offer travellers a base from where to explore the surrounding area, including of course the Chapel Down wine estate. Packages include vineyard and winery tours, a tutored tasting and a lesson in sabrage – not for the faint-hearted! From central London you can be in the Garden of England enjoying a glass of English fizz in under two hours.

  • Chapel Down Winery & Store, Small Hythe, Tenterden, Kent TN30 7NG
  • Open 10am-5pm.
  • Vineyard tour and tastings: booking in advance advisable.

Rathfinny Wine Estate, Sussex, UK

Nearest station: Seaford

A stone’s throw from the south coast is one of the UK’s newest wine estates. Rathfinny was established by Sarah and Mark Driver in 2010 and is pushing to become one of the UK’s premium sparkling wine houses. As well as its Sussex fizz Rathfinny makes still wine under the Cradle Valley label and gin. Its Flint Barns are the perfect retreat after a day by the sea or on the South Downs, offering open fires, snugs and home-cooked meals in the dining room.

  • Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5TU
  • Cradle Valley winter tour & tasting: selected dates November-March. Buy tickets in advance.

See also: Wine tour ideas for Autumn

Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey, UK

Nearest station: Dorking

Head to the Surrey Hills and one of England’s largest wine estates for a stay in the UK’s first vineyard hotel. Denbies, near Dorking (less than an hour by train from London), was planted in 1986 and stretches over 265 acres where award-winning still and sparkling wine is grown and made. Denbies Vineyard Hotel offers views across the Surrey Hills and from here you can explore the estate and the local area, and enjoy on-site tastings and a vineyard tour by Land Rover-pulled ‘train’, no less.

  • Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AA
  • Estate open: April-October, Monday-Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 10am-5.30pm. November-March, Monday-Saturday 9.30am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm.
  • Indoor wine tasting: run on the hour daily between 11am-4pm, all year. Advance booking recommended.
  • Vineyard train tours: March-October. Advance booking recommended.

Camel Valley, Cornwall, UK

Nearest station: Bodmin Parkway

Billed – by some – as the ‘California of England’ Cornwall has its own burgeoning wine scene which may not rival Napa or Sonoma but is responsible for some of England’s finest wines. At the heart of this is Camel Valley where Bob Lindo and family have been making wine and welcoming visitors for 30 years. Stretch your legs after the four-hour train journey from London’s Paddington with a vineyard tour and tasting before staying in one of the estate’s barn-converted cottages offering stunning…

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