Sinead Hanna
14th May 2023

Craving an escape to wine country? Get your fix of fine wines, cellar door experiences and vineyard views right here in Canterbury.

Being in the heart of the Garden of England with rich chalk soil and ideal climate, Canterbury is home to several award-winning vineyards producing some of the best wines in the country, and offering elegant cellar door experiences for visitors.

Simpsons Wine Estate, Elham Valley, Barnsole, Chartham, Heppington, and Woolton Farm are all on our doorstep, along with the first UK vineyard from Champagne Taittinger at Domaine Evremond.

Those looking to dip their toes into English wine can sample outstanding local and national wines at city centre tasting room Corkk, or at The Good Shed. Many local restaurants and pubs offer English wines on their menus.

And did we mention the stunning countryside views of the vines? 

With plenty of accommodation choices in the city, along the coast, or deep in the countryside, Canterbury really is the perfect place for a viticulture vacation.

Thirsty to know more about English Wine? We asked Canterbury’s resident Master of Wine (MW) Clive Barlow for his top tips on how to sip, sample and savour the best wines around.

Read our interview with him below....

Clive Barlow is one of only 400 Master of Wines in the world. He shares his expertise at Press Wine Services at The Goods Shed, and English wine specialists Corkk in Canterbury's cathedreal quarter.

What do you think makes Canterbury-grown wines so special?

Great flavours and ripe clean fruits. The wines have a sense of the fruit farms and orchards that surround the city; crisp tasting apples, pears, gooseberries and red fruits such as strawberries, cherries and raspberries. And they have a terrific freshness; just like a walk in Kent spring can raise your spirits, Canterbury wines have a vivacity that enlivens the palate.

Let’s say someone is brand new to tasting English wine – where should they start?  

I would go for a super sparkler like Simpsons Chalklands, by Simpsons Wine Estate. Loved by all, it is fresh and bubbly offering lemon and pear fruit.

For a still wine I would go for the signature English grape Bacchus – try the Chartham Bacchus; crisp and a green apple with gooseberry and nettle notes.

What should people look for when picking or trying a good wine?

When tasting/trying a wine there are 3 things to look out for. Firstly, sniff and taste for the range of flavours/aromas, usually the more the better. Secondly, check out the balance. Do the crisp acidity, the alcohol, tannins and fruit flavours sit harmoniously together or does one stick out? Thirdly, how long do the flavours remain? The longer the better!

Keep reading 👇

The annual Canterbury Wine Festival at Westgate Hall is a great place for people to learn about English wine in the heart of the city. What should people expect from the festival and your masterclass?

The wine festival is an amazing opportunity to taste more than 45 local wines and meet the people who are intimately involved the production of the products. It’s a very relaxed and open event, you don’t need to know anything about wine to enjoy it as there are plenty of great people on hand to guide you through some sensational tastings. And there’s a lot of wine to try!

For the Masterclass we will be looking at my top picks from Kent and the stories that lie behind the vineyards, people and wines.

The big question: what snacks would you pair with your favourite wines?

With a still white such as Bacchus I love some Kent cheeses such as Bowyers Brie or a light goat’s cheese. And with a dry sparkling wine, if it can be considered a snack, a couple of oysters!

For people looking to expand their Kentish wine knowledge after visiting Canterbury, which other experiences would you recommend?

There are many great vineyards to visit such as Balfour Winery, Westwell, Woodchurch, and Biddenden, but a favourite of mine is Gusbourne. Just above the Romney Marshes, the winery and vineyard are beautifully kept and have superb views. The tasting room is excellent, and the wines match the experience with their high quality.

What are you looking forward to most in Canterbury in 2023?

What else? A great summer and visiting lots of vineyards and wineries!