This week, Mr E and I took a little road trip down to Kent. We were off to Dover for a date with the gorgeous, re-imagined Disney Magic, and looking for a place to stay in Kent the night before. A friend recommended the Heath Estate winery and its pub, The Goudhurst Inn, and frankly we didn’t take much convincing.
The Hush Heath Estate is a 400 acre chunk of the Kentish Weald comprising vineyards, orchards and ancient oak woodlands. We arrived on a beautiful sunny day and decided to take a self guided tour (they provide you with a map and there are little markers to point you in the right direction too). Our tour took us right through the vines, past apple trees laden with Bramleys, Coxes and Egremont Russets (the estate makes some amazing ciders called Jakes Orchard) and through beautiful old oak forests (a bit like the Hundred Acre Wood – complete with buzzy bees, shy deer, skittering squirrels, hooting owls and sun-dappled clearings).
Back at the winery, we met up with Sarah Easton, who told us a bit more about wine production at Hush Heath, and opened some of the bottles for us to try. The Balfour Brut Rosé 2010 is a stunning sparkling rosé: 46% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay and 9% Pinot Meunier. It’s got a delicate blossom colour and a delicious toasty aroma. We were surprised to find that on tasting, it starts off almost sweet and fragrant, with lots of berries, before the acidity kicks in. The rosé is already a Decanter World Wine Awards gold medal winner and rightly so. It’s stunning. A sommelier friend of ours said that he believes it’s the best sparkling rosé currently produced in England.
The winery also produce a rosé called Nannette’s English Rosé. It’s very lightly oaked and the same blend as the Balfour Brut Rosé – it’s a stunning apricot colour and fresh, but without any overpowering acidity. The perfect wine for sipping in the garden.
Another surprise was that the winery produce a red. The Hush Heath Manor Pinot Noir 2014 is a fascinating wine – it’s really pretty ruby colour with a sweet cherry scent and a smooth, surprisingly dry finish. Unlike any other Pinot I’ve ever tasted. You could almost see yourself drinking it chilled as it was so rosé like. Lovely.
After all that lovely wine, we decided to head back to The Goudhurst Inn and check in. We were welcomed with a lovely glass of Balfour Blanc de Blancs 2010 and sat in the garden to sip our drinks and watch the world go by. The pub has a beautiful terrace including a garden with a special children’s area and it was still bustling, even into the late afternoon. The pub’s dining has been cleverly extended with a single storey conservatory with huge doors that can be opened out onto the terrace area. In the evening this is a lovely place to dine.
Inside, the pub is stunning, with loads of quirky touches and attention to detail. The staff are really friendly and welcoming. Our room – one of just four, all beautifully furnished and decorated – was absolutely stunning, with the same attention to detail, and an en-suite with tub actually part of the room.
Dining can be outside, in the covered conservatory area, or inside. The menu provides a good selection of meals. The bar food menu features traditional pub foods like moules frites, burgers, scotch eggs, etc, plus there’s a pizza shack on the terrace serving freshly baked pizzas (including gluten free options).
The restaurant menu, served in the Hush Heath Room or the conservatory concentrates on great local produce. Starters include cured meats and local cheeses as a sharing platter, as well as melon and prosciutto, tuna ceviche and steak tartare, with mains including salads, steaks, marsh lamb and a great selection of imaginative sides like courgette frites and chilli kale. There’s also a cracking wine selection, as well as all the Hush Heath wines, of course.
What a delightful place. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend a visit to the winery (the tasting is free after your self guided tour), and a couple of sunny hours on the beautiful terrace at The Goudhurst Inn sipping something cold and delicious wouldn’t go amiss either. I know we’ll be back very soon.
Massive thanks to Martin for suggesting the venue, and thanks to Hein and his team for treating us like royalty during our stay. We were truly spoilt.