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Kent named second best place to travel and the wine garden of England by iescape

Kent has been known as the garden of England for what seems like forever, but a new word has now been added to the title - wine.

Besides the stunning landscapes, wonderful orchards and fruit farms, the county is also being recognised for its vineyards and award-winning plonk.

Chapel Down's Kit's Coty vineyard
Chapel Down's Kit's Coty vineyard

Travel company, iescape, is one of many to notice this, recently ranking the county as the second best place to visit in the world.

"Savour the wine garden of England" on the cusp of becoming an "international wine tasting destination" - they say. And we agree.

There are more than 50 vineyards across Kent, homing in a mass of accolades in recent years.

At the Decanter World Wine Awards, the county's wineries won more prizes than any other UK region, scooping up a total of 33 medals.

Chapel Down topped the list with 10 titles including two 'best in show' bottles.

MP Helen Whateley helped plant some of the very first seeds for the Chapel Down vineyards in May

One of Britain's best known vineyards, the Tenterden-based winery supplies to No 10 Downing Street, the Oxford and Cambridge boat race and celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.

Earlier this year, bosses revealed they are planting the nation's biggest vineyard after acquiring a 388-acre site near Blue Bell Hill.

Managing director of wine, Mark Harvey, said: "We have made great progress and have planted over half of this area so far.

"We all believe passionately in the future of English wine and specifically in Kent - the best area for growing high quality grapes given the soils and favourable climate."

And Hush Heath estate in Staplehurst is the only English winery to be awarded the highest visitor award by Visit England.

Only 16 attractions have achieved the gold award, this 400-acre plot being one of them.

The wine garden of England tour launched last year
The wine garden of England tour launched last year

A Champagne house, Tattinger, even has vines here.

Visit Kent has also joined forces with winemakers in a bid to tap into the lucrative tourism market. Together, they launched a trail for those wanting to experience the boom in the grape crop.

The tour is also called the wine garden of England with founding members including Biddenden Vineyards and Domaine Evremond.

More recently, a local entrepreneur has created a tour with a twist - cycle the Vineyards, where lovers of the sweet grape get to take a scenic route on wheels, stopping at four vineyards over two nights.

Leslie and Richard Balfour-Lynn of Hush Heath winery. Picture: Dan Goldsmith
Leslie and Richard Balfour-Lynn of Hush Heath winery. Picture: Dan Goldsmith

Visit Kent chief executive, Deidre Wells, said: "Since the first vines were planted by Bishop Gundulf in the grounds of Rochester Cathedral we have been blessed with some of the best wine in the world.

"Wine buffs already know that our wine is excellent, but we are now securing mass market penetration too, including being stocked in a number of major high street retailers."

iescape also praised Kent for its plethora of Michelin-starred pubs, food festivals and restaurants.

Hush Heath was given a top accolade from Visit England
Hush Heath was given a top accolade from Visit England

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