Hush Heath Estate and Winery, Staplehurst, Kent
Explore the ancient forests of Hush Heath Estate and picnic with a view of the vines at the stunning 400-acre home of the award-winning Balfour Brut Rosé.
Hush Heath Estate in Kent. Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness
On the day I visited Hush Heath Estate in Kent, they were spraying the vines so I couldn’t walk the vineyard trail as planned. Luckily, owner, Richard Balfour-Lynn, offered to drive me around. It gave me the chance to hear about his commitment to preserving the ancient forests on the estate, protecting local wildlife and creating vineyard experiences for visitors to both enjoy the natural surroundings and taste their terrific wine, ciders and juices. Hush Heath is a special place. It is certainly one of the most beautiful vineyards I have seen on my travels. Turn up for a tasting and you’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome. Perfect for nature lovers, walkers, budding English wine buffs and stressed out city types needing to exhale. My top tip – for a lazy and decadent supper, buy a bottle of Leslie’s Reserve and drink it with fish & chips.The Foodie Travel Guide
- Self-guided walking trail
- Free tastings
- Vineyard tours (min 6 people)
- Picnic lunches (order ahead)
- Monthly free tours
- Stay in Hush Heath pubs
The Story of Hush Heath Estate
The 400-acre Hush Heath Estate is centred around a Tudor manor house dating back to 1503. When Richard Balfour-Lynn bought the estate in 1980, he found a map in the attic depicting the layout of the original vineyards and apple orchards. The opportunity to buy more of the estate grounds in the 1990s, led to the planting of a 5-acre vineyard dedicated to traditional Champagne grapes varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. When a state-of-the-art winery followed in 2010, it enabled not only the production of sparkling wines but still wines and both still and sparkling ciders. Today, there are 30 acres of vineyards, 30 acres of orchards and over 100,000 bottles of wine produced every year.
Perfectly manicured rows of vines
The Tasting Room at Hush Heath Estate
Wander the Vines and Explore a Medieval Forest
There’s something for everyone to enjoy at Hush Heath and it’s all done without infringing upon the beauty and tranquillity of the landscape. The self-guided trail offers visitors a decent hour’s walk and takes you through medieval woods with ancient oak trees, past apple orchards and through four vineyards. Cyclists and visitors out exploring the lanes of the Kent countryside can drop in for free wine tastings. Groups wanting to learn about English wine can book a guided tour of the vineyard and winery (min 6 people). And with regular free tours each month, the vibe at Hush Heath is undoubtedly inclusive and welcoming to all.
The first harvest in 2004 produced the Balfour Brut Rosé for which the Estate is known, winning a Gold Medal and Trophy at the International Wine Challenge. Hailed as England’s most ‘exclusive pink fizz’, the Balfour Brut Rosé 2011 is dry, crisp and fruity with strawberry and raspberry flavours. Balfour, Leslie’s Reserve NV is a classic English sparkling wine. It’s very dry and has a bright gold colour. Serve is as an apéritif or with canapés. Make sure you try Jake’s Orchard Kent Sparkling Cider (named after the owner’s son). With a secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle, the cider has a fine mousse so it makes a popular alternative to sparkling wine.
Experience Hush Heath Hospitality
They’ve steered away from opening a restaurant or café at Hush Heath. Instead, you can order a picnic hamper in advance and eat it at tables with a view of the vines. The hamper includes treats such as Kentish pork pie, piccalilli, WoodChurch ham and apples from Jake’s Orchard. Foodie Travellers wanting a grape escape can stay at one of the two pubs they’ve refurbished to a high standard. The Goudhurst Inn is closest in the local village of Goudhurst. It offers both casual and elegant dining. After a day exploring the Kent countryside, sit in the garden with a glass of Hush Heath wine or cider and admire the beautiful views.
Stay or dine at The Goudhurst Inn. Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness
- Plan ahead by ordering a picnic and if you want to walk the trail, do check first to see if they are spraying the vines
- The nearest train station is Marden on the Charing Cross line from London. It’s a 5 minute taxi ride to Hush Heath Estate.
- You can enjoy Hush Heath hospitality at two of its London pubs – St. Bart’s Brewery & Wine Bar in Faringdon and The Bull & Hide in Liverpool Street
SHOP THIS STORY
WHERE TO STAY
The Goudhurst Inn – the local village pub in the nearby picturesque village of Goudhurst. The inn has four boutique suites, a dining room, a cosy pub area, and large outdoor terrace with breathtaking views of the Weald of Kent.
The Tickled Trout in West Farleigh near Maidstone – a modern and stylish pub with 6 boutique hotel rooms and a fabulous fish restaurant. Enjoy Hush Heath Estate sparkling wines at the fresh ‘Oysters on ice’ bar.
They say they are very sorry but dogs are not allowed to visit Hush Heath Estate.