It used to be that people would scoff at the mention of "English wine", but in the last decade or so things have really changed.
Many of Britain's best wine makers have travelled to France and far beyond, to some of the most successful vineyards in the world, to learn from the very best wine growers and wine producers. Hotter summers in recent years have also helped.
The Bolney Wine Estate in West Sussex has been in the wine trade for almost 40 years, and takes great pride in the production of its handmade wines, some of which have won awards.
The family-run vineyard is in a location with an excellent micro-climate, perfect for growing red grapes. Indeed, red wines are the vineyard's speciality, though those who prefer a decent white or rosť will be pleased to know that the Bolney Wine Estate also makes those too.
The vineyard operates tours for anyone interested in seeing the skill and hard work that goes into making its wines.
Tours include a guided walk around the vineyards to see where the grapes are cultivated, and a visit to the winery where you can learn about the various stages of the wine-making process.
Six different tours are offered, ranging in price from £49 to £149 (for two people). For example, there's the A Taste of Bolney Wine Estate Tour for £59, ideal for those with "with both a thirst for wine and knowledge". You'll get a tour of the estate, learn all about how the Bolney Wine Estate produces its wines and, of course, get to taste a few of them.
The more expensive Deluxe Taste of Bolney Wine Estate Tour includes a full tour as above, but also includes a few extras, such as a tasty ploughman's lunch (includes local meats, cheeses and chutneys), some freshly-baked bread, homemade coleslaw and locally made (and intriguingly named) Wobblegate apple juice. A complimentary bottle of red wine (one per couple) is also included in the tour.
If you're unsure about the best time to visit, the estate has an excellent webpage detailing what happens at the vineyard at various points through the year.
Set in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside, a trip to the Bolney Wine Estate would make for a perfect weekend break from city life. The estate suggests some nearby places to stay if you'd like to make a weekend of it by combining a visit to the vineyard with a walk on the splendid South Downs.
By public transport from London, the Bolney Wine Estate is just a short train ride south to Haywards Heath or Burgess Hill and then a taxi or bus ride from there.