My Favourite Visit

Some of the UK's leading drinks producers, writers, critics and judges share their favourite visits.

Fuller's Griffin Brewery, Chiswick

Location: 
Fuller's


Des de Moor
writes:
“To my mind Fuller’s is one of the best breweries in the world. London Pride was one of the first real ales I tried, back in the late 1970s, and was an early beer epiphany.It’s still a fine example of a traditional draught bitter, but it’s since been supplemented by exceptional specialities like the bottle conditioned barley wine Vintage Ale with its remarkable ageing potential. So it’s doubly delightful that the brewery itself is also a fascinating place to visit, and puts on a great welcome for guests.

Bruichladdich Distillery

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Bruichladdich Distillery

Andrew Jefford writes: "Islay is a stone ship, slowly ploughing its way westwards across the Atlantic. Through high, rough latitudes: the rain falls by the pailful, by the curtainload. When the wind’s up, the rain comes at you brawling and flailing, as vicious as rice flung from the tattooed hands of a hooligan. That wind blows the rain into your joints, where it lurks. Then a night of frost falls, and the water freezes, and your joints are prised open, and that weighs on the spirit. There’s only one antidote: a dram of Islay malt.

Sharpham Wine and Cheese

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Sharpham Wine & Cheese

Susy Atkins writes: It says “booking for lunch is highly recommended” rather prominently on the leaflet for Sharpham Vineyard – you're telling me! Tucked away on the pretty road between Totnes and Kingsbridge, drivers head down tiny lanes, through the gorgeous Devon village of Ashprington to get to Sharpham. But somehow over 30,000 people find their way each year.

Despite the numbers, this is a calm, peaceful place, in keeping with the slightly hippyish Totnes community, and it's somewhere to hang out for a good half-day,

Welbeck Abbey Brewery

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Welbeck Abbey Brewery

Tim Hampson writes: "I cannot think of what is more mysterious – the stories which abound about Welbeck Abbey or the enigmatic, elemental lifecycle of a yeast cell.

The Welbeck Estate has a history that goes back at least to the year 1200 when the house that we see today was built and part of the grounds were landscaped. Home to the Portland family, the fifth Duke was as mad as a box of frogs.

Sedlescombe

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Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard

Monty Waldin writes: Sedlescombe in East Sussex is England’s oldest organic vineyard. If this makes it sound stuffy it's not as visitors to this Sussex winery will soon find.

Roy and Irma Cook planted their vines from 1979 when English wine was seen as a bit of a joke. The fact that the Cooks planted Sedlescombe as organic raised eyebrows even further. Nevertheless Sedlescombe’s white wines have been consistently wonderful examples of what I think makes English wine so appetising: vivid fruit flavours, tongue-tingling freshness and only moderate levels of alcohol.

Ancre Hill Estates

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Ancre Hill Estates

The Harrow at Little Bedwyn's Roger Jones writes: Driving up the sweeping drive way you are enchanted by the beautiful neat vines and fabulous house as the centrepiece of this small vineyard which Richard and Joy Morris have set up in their retirement years.

Set in the middle of the Wye Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ancre Hill's vineyard is blessed with its own unique micro-climate, surrounded by tree-topped hills on all sides, with the famous Brecon Beacons to the north.

Camel Valley Vineyard

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Camel Valley Vineyard

Artisan & Vine's Kathryn O'Mara writes: Passionate and sincere owners? Check. Oustanding views? Check. Welcoming and informative visitor facilities? Check. And most importantly: distinctive, high quality wines. Check. Where am I talking about? Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall.

About the only thing I don't like is the booming sound of gun fire used to scare off birds. That was scary, but we'll gloss over that.

Long, long ago, when Artisan & Vine had only just opened, I met Sam Lindo, the winemaker, at the English Wine Trade Tasting. Sam's enthusiasm borders on hyperactive and as such it was clear that I'd met a kindred spirit.

Glenfarclas

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Glenfarclas

Glenfarclas George GrantMaster of Malt's Ben Ellefsen writes: In a world of massive corporate ownership, and mergers and acquisitions worth hundreds of millions, there are relatively few family-owned and operated distilleries. One shining beacon that has been producing exceptional quality malt for centuries is Glenfarclas.

Plumpton College

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Plumpton College

Kevin Sutherland at PlumptonHakkasan's Christine Parkinson writes:

It’s not just the beautiful location below the steep pastures of Ditchling Beacon,

It’s the sights and sounds of a rural college: the metal-smithing, the tractor-driving, the sheep shearing.

It’s the excitement of being where good wine is made, yet still being in England.

Old Chimney Brewery

Old Chimneys BreweryTravels with Beer' Rob Gale writes: Old Chimneys Brewery offers a visit that is a little off the beaten path while still being memorable. Located on a farm in Market Weston near Diss in Suffolk, Old Chimneys was set up in 1995 by Alan Thompson, a man with over 30 years’ experience in the brewing industry.