The Romans were the first to grow vines on the thin chalky soils of the Chiltern slopes. Vineyards and breweries still thrive here, now including a gin distillery, all producing a range of award-winning wines, liqueurs, gin and ales. Enjoy their home-grown brews in local pubs and restaurants or try them and buy them on the spot.
Strolling through vines on a sunny hillside and then tasting the finished product is a great way to experience some of the bounty this beautiful countryside produces. Most local vineyards offer tours and tastings, often hosted by the winemaker, giving you the chance to share in their passion and knowledge of wine. Please call ahead or check their website before visiting as some visits must be booked in advance. Some vineyards also offer accommodation, why not base yourself in the Chilterns and make a long weekend of it?
These local vineyards and new gin distillery should be plenty to get you started on your tasting tour. Share your adventures on social media using #Chilterns.
Brightwell Vineyards: The 16 acres of Brightwell Vineyard next to the river Thames near Wallingford grow eight varieties of grape from which white rose, red and sparkling wine are created, making this one of the most productive vineyards in the Chilterns. Unusually for an English vineyard, it also produces well-received red wines from its warm and sheltered location. Tours and wine tastings take place most weekends from June to September.
Frithsden Vineyard: Vines have been grown at Frithsden Vineyard near Berkhamsted since the 1970s, but it is current owners, Simon and natalie Tooley, who have turned this delightful boutique vineyard into a real haven for wine-lovers and foodies. White, rose and sparkling wines are produced and bottled on site.
Daws Hill Vineyard: Located in one of the most beautiful of the Chilterns’ valleys, near high Wycombe, this vineyard specialises in sparkling white and red wines, and also produces sparkling cider. The Radnage Valley is also one of the best places in the Chilterns to see red kites, the magnificent birds of prey, which are very likely to be soaring overhead as you wander through the vines!
Chiltern Valley Winery: Set high in the Hambleden Valley near Henley-on-Thames, Chiltern Valley Winery is one of the oldest wineries in the Chilterns who have been growing vines since 1980. It is a real centre of delight for food and drink lovers, having not only a vineyard and winery on site, but also a brewery, cellar shop and cookery school, and a farmhouse B&B to relax in once you have tried everything!
Harrow and Hope Vineyard: Located above the Thames at Marlow, Henry and Kaye Laithwaite (of the well-known wine retailing family), are making the most of their chalky, flinty soil to produce sparkling wines using Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier grapes,
Puddingstone Distillery: The first modern gin distillery in the Chilterns should delight those whose tastes include carefully-crafted gin. Opened in 2016, the distillery, located near Tring, is producing small batches of its Campfire Gin and offering tours and tastings. Their shop is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays where you can purchase Campfire Gin. Two additional expressions, navy strength and wood aged, have recently been released, followed by a seasonal variation. Read more about Ben and Kate's gin adventures here.