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Wineries and Vineyards Southeast of London
English Vineyards Do Exist!
Winery Tours Within One Hour Drive of London
Visiting London? You might want to go on a tour of English Vineyards within a one hour drive. All offer tasting tours, have fantastic restaurants on site and of course the opportunity to purchase a bottle or two of their wines. Whether you just want a great day out, or the chance to stock your cellar, there are some gorgeous boutique vineyards close to London.
Denbies Winery Dorking
Denbies Wine Estate lies in the foothills of Dorking near Box Hill, and overlooks the route of the London Olympic Road Cycling Race. Wine tasting tours are offered year round, with the opportunity to go on the "Outdoor Vineyard Train" from March to September. This is the UKs largest vineyard, at 265 acres and makes for a spectacular day out.
The beautiful flint and chateux style building is home to the Garden Restaurant, and local farm shop where you can buy local and organic produce. There is a variety of wine tour options including wine and food together, and wine and chocolate.
Denbies is open daily from approximately 11-4pm and it is recommended to book online via their website. Tour costs range from £9.50 to £15.
Jenkyn Place Vineyard Hampshire
The Hampshire and Surrey home counties are natural homes for sparkling wines due to the geology of the soil, which is high in lime. English sparkling wines are winning many local and international awards for their stunning quality.
Jenkyn Place Vineyard has planted the classic grape varieties used to make champagne, includinhg pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. The soil is almost identical to the Champagne region of France and their sparkling Brut graces the tables of the Ivy Restaurant in London.
With the third vintage in 2012 (from 2008 bottling); Sparkling Brut and Sparkling Rose, collectors will want to get their hands on one of only 8000 bottles. This new vineyard, begun in 2004 is truly boutique, with wine tasting tours held inside a delightful Queen Anne style converted dairy house.
Jenkyn Place Vineyard is available to visit by contacting them. Details are on their website.
Greyfriars Vineyard Guildford
This winery has been recently taken over by Mike and Hilary Wagstaff who decided the corporate life in Scotland was worth trading for running a vineyard in the Surrey Hills. They aim to upgrade Greyfriars from a cottage vineyard to a commercial scale outfit by investing in vines and infrastructure. Last year they planted 13,000 new vines in one day.
They aim to make a good english sparkling wine, not a champagne copy, and can take advantage of the same regional and climate conditions as the famous region in France has. With open days planned for 2012 and onwards, the new Greyfriars Vineyard is hosting free tasting days and the opportunity to try to hopefully purchase their delightful sparkling wine which is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes.
Greyfriars Vineyard is not open for tours, but you can arrange to visit them and taste/buy wine. They are happy to show you around if it is at a convenient time. Look to the website for open days where free tastings and tours are on offer.
Albury Organic Vineyard
Behind the attraction of Silent Pool on the A25, and also near the London Olympic Road Race route, lies 15 acres where organic wine is being cultivated. The owner, Nick Wenman has hired viticulturalist Alex Valsecchi from RHS Wisley, which does a lot of work in the organic area, to manage the vineyard.
Given the location of the vineyard is in the North Downs, and has the same chalky ground perfect for the classic champagne grape varieties, Albury Vineyard is aiming to have its first sparkling wine ready for 2014. They have just perfected their Albury Organic Sparkling Rose wine, which caters for lower alcohol users at 10% content.
The vineyard does not use copper and sulphur even though it is allowed in organic viticulture, and prefers a method known as compost teas to improve the biology of the soil. The Albury Organic Vineyard is one to watch, and might let you visit and quiz them about the organic viticulture if you are passionate about that kind of agriculture too. Open days and tours are in the pipeline, and you can keep up to date with the vineyard on their website and of course, purchase some wine if you happen to be visiting them.
Gold IWC for Denbies Rose Wine
It's Official English Wineries Are World Class
This pocket of Surrey contains the equivalent geography of the Champagne region of France. I encourage you to investigate next time you are in London and taste some lovely wine. Within one hour and a nice drive, the town of Guildford is a great middle point for Denbies, Albury and Greyfriars, with Hampshire's Jenkyn Vineyard worth doing on your way back. Enjoy sparkling english wines!
English Winery Locations
Albury Organic Vineyard; Weston Lodge, The Street, Albury, Surrey, GU5 9AE
Greyfriars Vineyard (next door to Hogs Back Brewery if you are also an "ale" fan) - Hogs Back, Guildford, Surrey, GU3 1AG
Jenkyn Place Vineyard; Hole Lane, Bentley, Hampshire, GU10 5LU
Denbies Wine Estate; London Road, Dorking Surrey RH5 6AA
London to Denbies, point D is 47 minutes according to Google Maps.