Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

This is why you should visit Suffolk’s Wyken Vineyards…

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Wyken Vineyards - Barn

 
In the village of Stanton, just a 20-minute drive from Bury St Edmunds, you’ll find Wyken Vineyards. This 1200-acre farm is also home to a 7-acre vineyard which produces award-winning wines – and plenty more.

I first stumbled across the place when I heard about their weekly Saturday farmers’ market. This was the main reason for our visit the other week, but I knew there was plenty more to see.

We’ll definitely be back. Here’s why.
 

A recent history of Wyken Vineyards

In 1974, Kenneth Carlisle – later a Tory MP – took over the arable farm on the Wyken estate from his father. He was the fourth generation of Carlisles to inherit the estate, and he and wife Carla knew they needed to diversify.

Carla’s background as a wine writer made her realise that the land was perfect for a vineyard. Since then, their operation has expanded to include the vineyard, a restaurant, a weekly farmers’ market, some incredible gardens and a country store that sells Wyken’s wine, among other housewares and gifts.
 

Wyken Vineyards - Country Store

Wyken Vineyards - Country Store 2

 

The farmers’ market

For over 25 years there has been a farmers’ market at Wyken Vineyards. Running from 9am to 1pm, it’s a chance to stock up on all sorts of local goodies. Traders are announced on their Facebook page each week – you’ll find everything from pottery and pasties to spirits and spices.

We ended up buying cheese from Fen Farm Dairy, fruit from Tas Valley, pasta and chocolate salami from Truly Unique Pasta, sausage rolls from Rolfe’s The Butcher (our lunch), and sweet treats from the Honest Food Bakery. I loved the fact that there was so much variety, and it was a lovely, friendly environment.
 

Wyken Vineyards - Farmers Market 2

Wyken Vineyards - Farmers Market 1

Wyken Vineyards - Farmers Market 3

 

The restaurant

We didn’t actually eat at Wyken’s restaurant – The Leaping Hare – on our last visit. It’s firmly on our list of places to try, though. Highly praised by Jay Rayner when he visited, this place has been in the Good Food Guide for nearly three decades. You’ll find it inside Wyken’s 400-year-old converted barn – a light and airy building – and the menu looks incredible. You’ll see from the picture below that the majority of their ingredients are sourced locally, if not from their own kitchen gardens, with a firm focus on both quality and sustainability.
 

Wyken Vineyards - Leaping Hare Menu

 

The gardens

Wyken Hall’s garden is an RHS partner garden: a series of individual areas all designed to complement the Elizabethan mansion. Open from April to September, there’s a small entrance fee (I believe it was £6 for adults, free for children) and it’s well worth the money.

Step through the gate and you’ll come face to face with the beautiful house itself. Follow the map around the gardens to discover a pond, a copper beech maze, a traditional English kitchen garden, wildflower meadows and more. There’s a pet graveyard. There’s a turkey. You may even spot the peacock and peahen on your travels.
 

Wyken Vineyards - Garden Entrance

Wyken Vineyards - Rabbit Sculpture

Wyken Vineyards - Caravan

Wyken Vineyards - Peacock

 

From April to September, you’ll also find a Woodland Walk that takes you through the sheep field to Wyken’s vineyard – sadly this was closed when we visited. We did meet the llamas and the sheep, though.
 

Wyken Vineyards - Sheep

 
If you’re planning a visit to Wyken Vineyards, check their website for opening times, menus and events before you visit. I’m looking forward to returning to visit The Leaping Hare in the near future – and to stock up on local wine…
 

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