Wythall Estate and Vineyards: New Directions for an English Country Retreat

By posted on November 7, 2018 8:47AM
Wythall Estate and Lower Wythall across a field of hay in Ross-on-Wye England

It’s a landscape of fields, livestock, farm buildings, and woodlands. Narrow country lanes are held in place by hedgerows and stone walls. Beyond the centuries-old barriers are farms and fields. The earth is golden with late summer grain, or green with rows of potato leaves, asparagus, or corn. Apple and pear orchards are frequent. An occasional farm stand offers fruit, vegetables, honey or eggs. Payment is made in an honor box. Cattle graze, sheep forage. You pass through micro-villages of stone cottages, or a town with a pub and food shop. Patches of woodlands shelter the hillsides. Sporadically the River Wye rolls under a one-lane, arched-stone bridge. You’re in Herefordshire, one of the finest agriculture areas of England, perfect for an English Country getaway at Wythall Estate.

An English Country Estate

Wythall Hall and cottages in the early morning
Wythall Hall and Cottages in the Early Morning – photo by Jamie McIntyre

Wythall Estate sits on a gently rising knoll just off Bull’s Hill, a backroad meandering through farmland. In front of the 15th-century half-timbered house and cottages, an oval pond is the focal point of the manor house gardens. Vineyards cover gentle slopes expanding behind the Tudor buildings.

The pond and gardens at Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England
The Pond and Gardens at Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England

Wythall has been handed down within the McIntyre family for 500-years; an unbroken chain. For centuries it was a center for agriculture and refined life. Over time, the estate ceased to prosper. Past generations gave away or sold plots, the Wythall footprint shrank. Farm production stopped. The family moved away. The grand house and building fell into a state of disrepair.

A Commitment to Sustainability

Rondo grapes in August at Wythall Vineyards, Ross-on-Wye England
Rondo Grapes in August at Wythall Vineyards, Ross-on-Wye England

Anthea, her husband Frank, and brother Jamie made a new commitment to the land and buildings, taking on the Herculean task of restoring and rehabilitating the land and historic Grade 1, Tudor era, black and white, half-timbered houses, cottages, and farm buildings.

They wanted the estate to become self-sustaining and an asset to the next generation of the McIntyre family to be Wythall’s champion. A plan was set into place to create income.

The Vineyards at Wythall Estate

Wythall Vineyards, Ross-on-Wye England
Wythall Vineyards, Ross-on-Wye England

Three thousand five hundred vines were planted on 3.5 acres. The estate joined the growing English wine marketplace. They planted white Siegerrebe and Orion grapes; plus, red Rondo and Fruhburgunder, also known as early pinot.

Tudor Manor wines from Wythall Vineyards, Ross-on-Wye England
Tudor Manor Wines from Wythall Vineyards, Ross-on-Wye England – Photo by Jamie McIntyre

This huge economic and agriculture challenge has begun to bear fruit. In their fourth bottling, the Tudor Manor label is supplying gold and rose wines to local eateries and shops. Output and sales are improving yearly.

The Holiday Cottages

Full kitchen at the Game Larders Cottage, Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England
Full kitchen at the Game Larders Cottage, Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England
Centuries-old beams in the Game Larders Cottage, Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England
Centuries-old Beams in the Game Larders Cottage, Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England

Two estate cottages have been opened to the public as self-catering holiday rentals. The Game Larders Cottage sleeps 3 + a baby. The Old Bakehouse sleeps 4 + a baby
Both are equipped with a full kitchen, flat screen TV, DVD, Wi-Fi, and telephone. All linen and towels are provided in the historic dwellings. Both have central heat, estate spring water, and baby furniture if needed.

The garden is available as a beautiful setting for a summer afternoon tea or just laze about. The vineyards and woodlands are ideal for a nature walk. Wythall is a safe home to many species of wildlife, including the ducks that inhabit the manor house pond.

Lower Wythall

If the estate cottages are booked, investigate Lower Wythall B&B. Once a part of the estate, it is just a 2-minute walk up to the main property. The lovingly restored B&B is a delight to explore. It’s comfortable, warm and welcoming.

Each of the five rooms is Ensuite with Wi-Fi, tea and coffee, plus special goodies from the farmhouse kitchen. Each morning the made to order breakfast includes freshly baked bread, and kitchen garden-grown jams and jellies for your toast.

Explore the Area

Waymarker on Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England
Waymarker on Wythall Estate, Ross-on-Wye England

The Wye Valley Walk  is a 136-mile footpath that follows the Anglo-Welsh borders. The well-marked footpath passes through the Wythall Estate. It is one of many long-distance walking tracks that crisscross the Herefordshire countryside.

Goodrich Castle, Ross-on-Wye England
Goodrich Castle, Ross-on-Wye England

Family-friendly Goodrich Castle is 6-minutes away. The embattlements and castle walls are still standing in this medieval wonder. The views from any part of the castle are spectacular. Plan for lunch in the café. Everything is made from scratch using locally grown ingredients.

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Kilpeck Church (Church of St Mary and St David)  is about 30-minutes away. This Romanesque church has been a place of worship for over 900 years. It’s an extraordinary place that has symbols and icons from Pagan and Christian beliefs.

Chained library at Hereford Castle, Hereford England
Chained Library at Hereford Castle, Hereford England

Hereford is a market town with the magnificent Hereford Cathedral, which houses a 17th-century chained library and a medieval map of the world, Mappa Mundi. The Cider Museum, art, festivals and gardens are just a few of Hereford’s treasures.

Gloucester has wonderfully preserved Victorian Docks. Maritime culture and history are alive here. Hereford and Gloucester are about 30-minutes away. Each has historical sites, art, music, pubs, cafes, and restaurants serving the region’s bounty of food and drink.

Eat & Drink

Herefordshire wines and ciders are available in pubs and eateries of all types
Herefordshire Wines and Ciders are Available in Pubs and Eateries of all Types

While in the area be sure to have some world-famous Hereford beef, freshwater fish, and local produce. You can’t leave the county without trying local wines such as Tudor Manor, local beer, real ale, and of course some Herefordshire Cider.

There are numerous eateries within a few miles of Wythall. Your host can suggest the best for the season. Shop at farmers markets, farm stands, and food shops for the makings of a picnic, or ‘cook like a local’ back at your holiday cottage.

Don’t miss world-renowned Hereford Beef like these slow-cooked ribs
Don’t Miss World-renowned Hereford Beef Like These Slow-cooked Ribs

Getting There

Wythall Estate is about a 3-hour drive from London. Be sure to get GPS for your car. The back roads of England can be tricky. Contact Wythall for the best driving directions.

Your hosts at Wythall are exceptionally knowledgeable about the area. They will gladly take you on a tour of their vineyards, recommend restaurants and markets, or help you map out your English Country adventure.

You’ll be welcome and comfortable at Wythall Estate, as they take a new direction for an old-world treasure.

Thank you to Andy Black from Visit Herefordshire and the Wye Valley – for hosting my stay in Herefordshire.

Mary Charlebois is a freelance travel writer/photographer/videographer. Her home is coastal Mendocino County California where she covers nature, food, destinations and profiles of people. Her passion is getting to know ranchers and farmers that produce the many sources for whole, clean and organic food abundant in the region. Mary plans to expand her travel writer’s beat to Oregon, Washington, NW Canada and southern England in 2017. She is a Journalist member of International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance, a Lonely Planet Pathfinder and Indie Traveler.

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