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Autumn days in the vineyard. Image: Sven Wilhelm / Unsplash

Let’s go to harvest

England’s autumn grape harvest season is a time for hard work and celebration in the vineyard

The annual grape harvest is the pinnacle of the growing season and such an exciting time to visit a vineyard – the vines verdant with luscious leaves and grapes almost at bursting point make for some wonderful scenery.

In England, ‘Le Vendange’ as it is called in France, takes place in September/October and while some vineyards close their doors to allow for the harvesting work to take place many invite the public to join in!

We round up some of the harvest celebration events taking place at vineyards in Kent Surrey and Sussex to really celebrate the season.

Rathfinny Wine Estate, Sussex

Enjoy lunch or dinner cooked on a wood fire in the courtyard at Rathfinny. Image: Rathfinny Win Estate

Rathfinny is inviting guests to celebrate Harvest with open-fire lunches, dinners and bed and breakfast packages which include grape picking experience tours and wine tasting.

The Harvest Courtyard Restaurant is open for lunches and dinners from October 1 to Sunday November 8, where estate head chef, Chris Bailey, will cooking over an open fire in the covered Courtyard. Lunch is £22 for two courses, £25 for three. Dinner £32 for two courses and £35 for three.

Those looking to extend their visit can book a Harvest Mid-Week Escape Package, which includes a night’s stay in The Flint Barn, dinner for two, breakfast and a Grape Picking & Tasting Experience to discover the benefits of hand harvesting. Two guests from £210 per night

Bluebell Vineyard, Sussex

This October you can join in the hand harvesting of the grapes which go into Bluebell Vineyard’s award-winning wines.

Unlike the vineyard workers who are likely to start much earlier in the morning, the visitor grape picking experience starts at 11am, when the team will greet guests with tea, coffee and treats and an explanation of how to identify they best quality grapes for still and sparkling wine and how they should be picked.

After a couple of hours out among the vines, you’ll break for a ploughmans lunch and of course a sample of some of the sparkling wines before visiting the winery to taste the freshly pressed juice of the grapes picked that morning.

The experience is available on Saturday October 10 and 17 and costs £25.

Hush Heath, Kent

Hush Heath’s Balfour Dining Club Harvest Dinner will start with a glass of the estate’s sparkling wine. Image: Becky Fantham/Unsplash

Hush Heath in Staplehurst is hosting an exclusive Balfour Dining Club Harvest Dinner to celebrate the end of harvest. Guests are invited to arrive at 7pm for a welcome glass or two of one the estate’s award winning English sparkling wines at The View.

Head winemaker Fergus Elias will then give a harvest update, before guests are seated for a candle lit seasonal three-course dinner paired with a glass of wine. The Harvest Dinner Menu on October 16 costs £80 per head.

Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey

Denbies in Dorking is inviting guests to view areas of the vineyard not usually accessible by the public on one of its Harvest Vineyard Trails. On the 90-minute walking tour, visitors will learn about harvest, the different grape varietals on the heavily laden vines and the geology of the estate.

Following your tour, you can enjoy a ploughman’s lunch hamper on the lawn with a ½ bottle of Denbies Sparkling Bacchus and you’ll receive a Denbies vine to take away as a long-lasting memento of the day. Tours take place at 10:30am and 12:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays throughout October priced at £49 per person.

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