Cunning old Chapel Down, the long-established English wine producer based near Tenterden in Kent. They are organising 'luxury' grape picking weekends during this year's harvest, which they expect to last from 27 Sep until 28 Oct.
Those who sign up will stay for two nights at Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, a 5-star bed and breakfast establishment on the National Trust estate of Sissinghurst Castle Garden, the atmospheric creation of Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson that is so well chronicled and well known to gardeners throughout the world. (I must confess that Sissinghurst would be the lure for me rather more than a day spent with secateurs and wellies as below.)
On the first night, you will be driven to the Three Chimneys – which Chapel Down assure us is 'Kent’s best dining pub' – for dinner, before being taken back to Sissinghurst. After breakfast, you’ll be taken to Tenterden where viticulturist and vineyard manager Craig Daly will instruct you in the ancient art of grape picking and you will then be put to work for the day, luxuriously of course. A packed lunch will be provided by Chapel Down's own restaurant, Richard Phillips at Chapel Down, or you will have a two course meal in the restaurant, depending on the weather.
In the afternoon, as well as spending some time among the vines, there will be a private tour of the winery, seeing winemaking in action, and a tutored tastings from one of the winemaking team. At around 4pm, guests will be taken back to Sissinghurst to relax before dinner back at the vineyard and then returning to the Farmhouse.
Chapel Down Vendange Weekends cost from £595 for two over-18s.
Contact Chapel Down on 01580 763033 for more information.