For the price of a fairly modest townhouse, these delightful houses with vineyards attached are far more than just country houses.
The dream of moving to a beautiful place in the country conjures up images of a home with a perfect farmhouse kitchen, winter evenings curled up in front of an inglenook fireplace and lazy summer evenings on the patio, looking out across the country.
But sometimes – just sometimes – a chilling sliver of reality pops into your head: would you have enough to do once you’ve finished revelling in bucolic splendour? If that particular ghost intrudes into your reveries, the ideal answer is not to just buy a house and a bit of land, but a house with a bit of land that you do something with. It might be keeping a few pigs, or a stable of horses. It might be an orchard and a walled garden where you grow your own produce. Or it might be one of the examples on this page: your own vineyard.
There was a time when this particular dream would have meant moving to the Continent, but with English wine now winning plaudits both at home and abroad there’s no need any more. Forget the nettle wine that Tom and Barbara used to make on The Good Life: such is the reputation of our wine today that there’s no reason that this particular hobby shouldn’t become a thriving lifestyle business. And two vineyards on the market right now offer exactly that opportunity.
First up is Tuckerton Farm, near Bridgwater in Somerset, which is for sale at just £850,000 – a price that’s certain to tempt owners of smart urban homes into swapping their townhouses for a country life.
The house itself is a fine family home that’s been well looked after by the present owners, with five bedrooms, three reception rooms and all manner of original features that have been given a 21st century touch. The flagstone floor of the drawing room, for example, has been equipped with underfloor heating, while there’s a very pretty modern kitchen.
It’s the outdoor facilities which really catch the eye, however. There are outbuildings including everything from a piggery and a tractor shed to a home office and a foaling stable – and as well as that there are lawns, woodland and, of course, the vineyard itself.
The current owners have, with the help of a local master winemaker, made three different types of wine in recent years: a 51 Rondo red, 45 Orion white and 23 younger Sirius white. 2017’s harvest produced 100 bottles, and 2018’s hot weather means that even more will be expected of the latest crop.
Birchden Farm, a few miles from Tunbridge Wells in Kent and on sale at £1.9 million, offers similar potential. The house here also has five bedrooms, but this time the purchase includes 23 acres of land including the vineyard.
The house itself is also full of character, being a converted Oast house that’s adjoined to a brick-and-oak-built barn that’s been superbly transformed. The kitchen/diner in particular is very nicely done: a double-aspect room with flagstone floor, Aga and granite work surfaces.
The vineyard itself has been used to make sparkling rosé of late – there are a couple of complimentary reviews on the Vivino website. We don’t have any figures for the yield, but if the winemaking doesn’t provide enough income, the buildings within the estate might do instead. There are three large buildings that are a mixture of offices and workshops, with planning permission in place for B1 business use.
Leaving the job behind and taking on a vineyard needn't just be a pipe dream – there are vineyards for sale
Catch up on the best country houses for sale this week that have come to the market via Country Life.