On a warm Sunday afternoon at the end of March (the first warm day of the year, and it happened to be Mother's Day in the UK), I headed to Denbies' Wine Estate in Surrey (south of London) to taste some wine. Some of the wine produced at this winery has won awards, and their rose wine was named the top English wine in one of the national newspapers, and the royals have been customers. Denbies has something for everyone, and unfortunately my plans changed at the last minute and I could not make a full day out. I would have surely loved to have had something from their cafe/restaurant and spent half the day here had my plans not changed. Perhaps I will make it back there at some point.
In addition to wine tastings and vineyards within reach, Denbies have a large gift shop, filled with wonderful and amazing bits and pieces (many not wine-related). They also have wagon rides around the vineyard, a farm shop, a garden shop, and I noticed some paintings above the reception area, which people could browse. (I sadly actually forgot to do this after the wine tour as I was in a hurry to get home.) I did come home with three bottles of wine and craft items.
The wine-tasting happened in the cellar. We were shown a creative video of the vineyards and the wine-making process, season-by-season. After the video, we were led via a little train down to the cellar. The little train was meant to give us a 'guided' tour of the factory where the wine is bottled, but as it is spring, there was nothing happening. We tasted three different kinds of wine in the cellar area, and the barrels in the background of the above photograph were a series of eight depicting the different stages in the wine-making process. Apparently, they were created from a large oak tree on the estate, but English trees are not good with the wine-making process because the wood is too dense. (So, the barrels are only for show.)
Spring in the vineyard feels slightly empty, with the rows leaf-less vines, but the countryside in this area is beautiful. I think that this would be an amazing place to visit in the autumn.
For more information about Denbies Wine Estate, please visit: http://www.denbies.co.uk/