Vineyard launches shuttle bus to drive up visitor numbers

WINE STATION: Balfour Winery will bus visitors in from Marden

KENT winemaker Balfour Winery has launched a shuttle service to the nearest railway station, to attract visitors to its tours and tastings from London.

The winery says it can offer a 45-minute journey time from central London, by running its new shuttle bus service to and from Marden station, timed to coincide with the trains.

The shuttle service could also be a boon for Tunbridge Wells residents and staycationing tourists, as trains call directly at Paddock Wood, and connect to Tunbridge Wells and High Brooms via Tonbridge.

With visitors to the vineyard already exceeding 15,000 annually, the company pointed to figures from industry association WineGB indicating that UK wineries can expect a 20 per cent increase in visitor numbers over the next five years.

Balfour’s Commercial Director Sarah Easton, said: “The boom in interest in English winery visits over recent years has been incredible to see.

“There’s a real realisation now that you don’t need to go abroad to savour the joy of visiting a vineyard.”

She added: “We want as few barriers as possible for people to discover our beautiful winery.”

Attractions and activities at the 400-acre estate include tours and wine tastings.

However, with events now being organised over the autumn and winter, the service is expected to run all year round, a spokesman told the Times.

“We’re expecting autumn to be particularly busy, with the launch of a new menu and later dining,” he said.

Meanwhile, winter events include music nights, murder mystery nights and sessions of the Dining Club.

“The service will run during our opening hours [which is until 6pm] unless we have one of these events on,” added the spokesman.

The Balfour Winery shuttle bus departs from Marden Station after the arrival of each London train, a journey of five minutes. Seats cannot be booked, but the driver will return immediately to collect anyone left behind.

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