Sunday, 18 September 2016

Denbies Vineyard

Hello

Thanks for calling in.

Is it too early for a glass of champagne? Well, there's one on offer, the only catch is you need to be booked onto a Champagne Tour at Denbies Estate Vineyard in Dorking, It's not going to happen is it!  Oh well, sit back and enjoy a few photos of the UK's largest vineyard on the North Downs, a most picturesque part of the country.

Of the one mile square estate, 265 acres were planted with vines in 1986. The new owner of the land Adrian White, who had been more interested in the house on the farm and woodland estate, had received a report from a local geologist, quite out of the blue, which showed that the particular conditions of the land - south facing slopes, chalk and flint soil, warm micro-climate in a sheltered bowl-shape - were ideal for growing grapes. The owner decided to give it a try.

15 different types of grapes are grown as shown on the map below. The same variety can be grown in different areas and get different properties depending on conditions.  When I visited, some of the grapes had just started to turn red and in two weeks' time, after being tested for acidity and sugar content, harvest would start which would take about six weeks. There is no particular order as to which grapes are first, just when they are at the optimum stage.  The Estate has one machine to pick the grapes, human pickers do the rest.

Each harvest is different but around 400 tonnes of grapes are produced, that's up to 400,000 bottle of wine. Here's a link to their website with more information.

I decided on a 50 minute outdoor vineyard tour on a little train which takes you right up through the woods high, high above so that there are views for miles over the beautiful area. There was a heat haze as it was a boiling hot day. Champagne was served to those with the right tickets at the top where the house is. Our guide gave us a talk and the train also had a recorded track as we hurtled slowly up the hill! The estate is called Denbies after a previous owner of the land, John Denby.























Most of the wine produced is sold from the Estate but Waitrose do stock their wine and M&S, Sainsburys and Lidl stock it under their own labels. You may have come across their wine - Surrey Gold, sparkling Greenfield, Redlands.  I must go back on an indoor tour to find out how it's made!



The visitor centre had an art display, restaurant, shop, accommodation and lots of different tours available.  There's even 7 miles of public footpaths so you can just take in the ambience.

I'll tell you a bit more about the house tomorrow.

What a grand day out!

Cheerio

12 comments:

  1. Now that looks like an impressive tour.

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    1. It was quite reasonable I thought at £6.50, £9.50 with the glass of bubbly.

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  2. Wow that looks interesting, I will look out for their wines. We visited lots of wineries in Australia, it always fascinates me how they all taste so different.

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    1. I was glad to see all the grapes as previous visits there were fields of sticks!

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  3. That looks like an interesting tour especially as you went around the vineyard on a little train. We have yet to drink the wine we bought during our tour of the Holmfirth vineyard. I shall look for the Dorking Vineyard wine when next in Lidl.

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    1. It was a great tour as the land was really steep so some people would have struggled. I'll have to an indoor tour next time. Good luck finding it in Lidls, the staff in my local store couldn't help me!

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  4. That is amazing that he was more interested in the house and just happened to find out the conditions were perfect. Also, amazing that it stocked by both M&S and Lidl as their own brand. A great post Karen xx

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    1. Mind you it was an absolutely beautiful location. I have been looking for the wine since my visit but haven't spotted it yet! x

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  5. Looks amazing and a fascinating tour with so much on offer for visitors too. How interesting that the owner bought the land for the house and the vines came as an afterthought:)

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    1. Amazing isn't it and his Geologist friend just did the survey because he was interested in geology and without any particular reason in mind! Fate! :-)

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