We recently spent a lovely weekend away for our anniversary and as part of the surprise for Mike, I was invited down to Denbies Vineyard in Dorking. We love going to our wine club, we love drinking wine and we love learning about wine so why not roll into one with a vineyard visit!
Denbies Vineyard was planted in 1986, with the first harvest being held in 1989, and since then has become one of the largest wine producers in the UK with their last harvest being over 400 tonnes of grapes and that will produce just over 500,000 bottles in total of still and sparkling wines! That’s a pretty huge harvest if you ask me, but then the site itself is 265 acres so it’s a pretty huge site too!
October saw the release of their new Pipp Brook NV sparkling wine, a traditional blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. With bottle-fermentation and aging on the lees, the wine has delicate bubbles and ripe apple flavours. Something we learned on our tour was that Denbies aren’t afraid to plant new grape varieties and give new blends a go, something that we would have expected from such an established vineyard!
Denbies wine is so sought after that it now competes on an international level, including multiple gold awards for their sparkling wine production, the first-ever gold for an English rose wine and most recently an international gold for Denbies Noble Harvest Dessert wine. Plus Denbies have been awarded the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships Awards 2018 Best in Class for Best English Blanc de Noirs and silver for their Greenfields, so they really are at the top of the wine game in our country! It’s great to see a winery so close to home doing so well!
And due to the impending Brexit, Weatherspoons have recently signed up to have Denbies as their sparkling wine supplier, which we think is a great thing for English wineries!
It was pretty amazing to see just how much work does go into winemaking over the winter months as I always thought it was more of a summer job! There’s still plenty of bottling to be done, lots of fermenting to be done, and for their famous sparkling wines there’s the riddling, disgorgement, ensuring the bottles are at full dosage before storing them away until the optimum drinking time!
We also found it pretty impressive to know that 45% of the wine produced at Denbies is drunk on site in their restaurants and at their events! Oh, and on the tours, of course…
We were signed up to the Food and Wine tour which comes at a very small cost of £16.95 per person and is available all year round as it is totally indoors.
The ‘Indoor Cinema Vineyard Tour’ starts in the brand new flat screen cinema featuring ‘The Vineyard Through the Seasons’ where you’re able to learn about the geology and history of the estate and experience the changes in the vineyard through the seasons and appreciate the winemaking process from vine to bottle. It was awesome to be able to see the vineyard in full harvest mode as it’s something I’ve always wanted to witness, just need to get there in person now!
You then move on to the Winery Walking tour section where you pass through the working winery with a full commentary from Denbies Wine Tour Guide complete with video footage to show you what it takes to get to the point you are currently standing next to. You will see the equipment used in today’s wine production and there’s a lot of emphasis on the sparkling wine disgorging line installed in 2013 which is really interested to learn about!
The tour comes to an end with the Cellar Tasting in the atmospheric Denbies cellars where we were guided through a tasting of Denbies Award-winning wine paired with carefully selected local produce designed to enhance both the food and wine experience. We tried the Surrey Gold paired with Norbury Blue cheese from just down the road, FLint Valley paired with Smoked Salmon and Rose Hill paired with chicken. All of them went so well and we were totally won over by the wines! We can totally see why they have won so many awards!
We finished up on a rather scrummy truffle that went down a right treat!
After our tour came to an end we wandered around the store making a few purchases, including stopping by the Surrey Hill Brewery and the Farm Shop and making a few more purchases! We then took a wander around the grounds as they over seven miles in public footpaths and of course, we snapped away!
Some of the photos we took on our wander have ended up being some of my favourites we have taken this year!
We ended up spending around four and a half hours on site which was far longer than we had expected but we had so much we wanted to do!
If you’re planning a visit, I’d advice booking here in advance and making sure you have plenty of time to take it all in!