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Balfour Winery named among England’s top visitor attractions

Published:  16 October, 2023

Balfour Winery has been recognised as one of the country’s top visitor attractions as the only vineyard to receive a Gold medal accreditation by VisitEngland – the official tourist board for England.

The estate, which produces approximately 400,000 bottles per year, achieved the top rating following an annual VisitEngland Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme assessment. It comes amidst a big change in consumer habits, with a sharp rise in interest in both visiting and enjoying the wines of English vineyards. 

Balfour is now eyeing attracting visitors from further afield, laying down a challenge to be one of the most visited wineries not just in the country, but around the world. It hopes to welcome a new generation of consumers with a focus on sustainability at its 400-acre estate, alongside plans to open a restaurant in winter 2023.  

Wine tourism is growing fast in the UK. Overall, English and Welsh wineries are expecting a further 20% increase in visitor numbers over the next five years (according to WineGB). In 2015, Balfour was one of the first to build a dedicated visitor centre and in 2022 over 15,000 people visited Balfour Winery and 2023 is on track to be a record as more people discover England’s emerging wine country.  

The accolade puts an English winery in the same category as venues such as the Richard III Centre, Sherwood Forest and the Arsenal Stadium.  

Speaking after the Gold accolade win, Balfour’s commercial director, Sarah Easton, said: “The boom in interest in English winery visits over recent years has been incredible to see. We’re now looking at some of the most iconic, and most visited, wineries in the world, and we believe we can compete in this country by offering a unique combination of world-class wines, service, and environmental credentials and by making it easier to visit us at Balfour with a free shuttle bus service”. 

According to VisitEngland, tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing about 2.6 million people and, in 2022, generating £66.3 billion in domestic visitor spending. It also represents, on average, 24% of the income for English wineries. 

VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes added: “These accolades are a testament to the outstanding experiences and customer service that attractions in England give visitors. They also recognise different aspects of the visitor experience with attractions that really go the extra mile, whether it’s offering exceptional food and drink or magical storytelling. The attractions honoured today go out of their way to make visits memorable, creating reasons for people to travel to new locations, also boosting local economies across England.”