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Unmissable days out at the vineyards of the Surrey Hills

By Sara Hardy– 29th March 2021
vineyards of the Surrey Hills 4

The excellence and prominence of English wines is growing with haste. At the heart of our remarkably picturesque county, less than an hour from London, lies a new English wine region known formally known as Vineyards of the Surrey Hills. In an area of outstanding natural beauty, this region has made such an impression on the wine industry that it is now internationally recognised as a leading producer of top-quality wines.

 

Sharing many similar qualities with the Champagne region in France, changes to our climate together with the unique soil conditions of Surrey’s chalky limestone slopes lend themselves particularly well to wine production. Whilst sparkling wine is undoubtedly leading the way as Surrey’s premium wine export, we are also producing award winning whites, rosés and sweet wines. This is wholly due to the diligence of our wine producers, and of course the vines grown on perfectly balanced terroirs.

 

How the vineyards of the Surrey Hills are changing the way we think about new world wines

 

The words “English wine” have, until recently, often been met with a number of misconceptions. Many believe that the British weather is so poor that it is not conducive to wine production. However, it is this cooler climate that enables the pinot noir and pinot gris grapes needed for champagne production to thrive. Some believe that new world wines are inferior to the traditional old-world wines, however English wines have won in blind taste tests year after year. I would encourage everyone to try it. Like me, you may never go back.

 

 

Why a visit to the vineyards of the Surrey Hills makes for a brilliantly fun family day out

 

Surrounded by nature with vast open spaces to roam, boundless views to soak in and fresh air in abundance, every vineyard visit is an adventure and an education. Being small works to the regions advantage; each vineyard is different and has its own story to tell, its own history and a unique personality.  A vineyard tour gives visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in beautiful surroundings and learn about the process of viticulture should they wish, and of course enjoy cellar door tastings and maybe even a bite to eat. The beauty of being local is the opportunity for collaborations with other artisan suppliers, of which there are many here in Surrey.

 

What is not to love about sitting in the sunshine soaking in the views and enjoying wine that has travelled only a number of meters to your table, leaving no carbon footprint?

 

Why choose to visit the vineyards of the Surrey Hills over those a little more known in Kent or Sussex

 

The vineyards of the Surrey Hills find themselves in a unique location. There is nowhere else that you can you enjoy sipping world class fizz on a terrace overlooking seemingly infinite vines, then return to central London in little over half an hour. Yet the region benefits from being largely untouched by mass tourism, a real gem in England’s crown. Moreover, the region is nestled between two of the UK’s major airports, making them a very easy stop over for any overseas visitors. If you’re not in a hurry, I would really encourage you to enjoy the vineyards at leisure then head to any of our charming pubs or fine dining restaurants for a meal. Surrey has a vast array of accommodation to suit all types, from cool and quirky to whimsical and high-end luxury. All of this makes Surrey a totally unmissable destination.

Vineyards of the Surrey Hills

 

Greyfriars. A state-of-the-art winery and vineyard.

 

In a privileged position on the sunny south facing slopes of the Hog’s Back at Puttenham, the site at Greyfriars has been growing vines since 1989. It was taken over in 2010 by Mike and Hillary Wagstaff and is run as a family business. The area under vine spans almost fifty acres across three sites, all of which primarily create award winning English Sparkling Wine. Three classic Champagne varieties are grown here; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with smaller areas of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Greyfriars is at the forefront of wine making technology having installed state-of-the-art winemaking facilities together with a natural chalk underground cellar for aging wines. In addition, the outdoor tasting platform has unparalleled views and the soon to be revealed tasting room will provide the most exquisite setting to sample their wines.

 

This year marks ten years for Greyfriars under Mike and Hilary’s ownership, so look out for a number of exciting events taking place at the vineyard this summer.

 

 

Chilworth Manor. Discover the history behind the Manor’s estate which produces some of the finest rosé in the region.

 

With a history dating back as far as the Domesday Book, Chilworth Manor is a house and estate with and extraordinary one thousand year history. Chilworth shares its particular geology with Val de Reims and Valle de la Marne in the Champagne region of France (the latter being the home of the Bollinger estate).  As the founding member of the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain scheme, Chilworth takes a natural approach to wine production with sustainability and support for the local and further environment at its heart. It is known for its rosé which is so popular it has already sold out this year.

 

Albury Organic Vineyard. A biodynamic family run vineyard situated beside the mythical Silent Pool.

 

The family run vineyard of Albury is one of only a handful of organic vineyards in the UK. Albury was first put on the map when their Silent Pool rosé was served on the Royal Barge during the Queens Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Alex, the vineyard’s expert female manager, is committed to employing organic and biodynamic principles throughout their wine production. Owner Nick believes that this enables them to produce English wines of the finest class. You will find their international award-winning Albury Estate wines in some of the country’s best restaurants.

 

Albury offers tastings and tours together with a number of family events including their Easter Egg hunt this coming weekend. Other events such as wine and cheese tastings, fizz Fridays and music in the vineyard are also planned for this summer.

 

 

High Clandon. A boutique vineyard creating quality English sparkling wines using traditional methods.

 

Delicate English sparkling wines are the essence of this boutique vineyard. With the terroir located on the rolling downs, each vine is hand manicured to ensure the highest standards. Wines are created in a traditional method and aged for a minimum of five years.

 

Owners Bruce and Sibylla are pleased to offer tours and tastings, and in previous years art and sculpture displays have been on show for visitors to enjoy.

 

 

Denbies. The UK’s largest single estate vineyard.

 

Established in 1986, family owned and run Denbies Wine Estate is in a privileged position overlooking the famous Box Hill. It’s soil conditions and microclimate provide the most favourable conditions for wine production. The vineyard produces a range of internationally recognised and award-winning still and sparkling wines, red, white and rosé. Vineyard tours are available by land train which are fun for all ages. There are also two restaurants and cellar door tastings which are thoroughly worth a visit.

 

There are highly regarded vineyards in other areas of Surrey too, just a short drive away from the Vineyards of the Surrey Hills region.

 

Godstone. A hand harvested grape to encapsulate the scents of summer.

 

The fifty-acre vineyard of Godstone was established in 1985 and is known for growing the Syval Blanc and Bacchus grape variety which are harvested by hand here. The unique microclimate at the foot of the gently sloping North Downs Way enable the grapes to develop an extraordinary aroma that reflect the composition of Godstone’s terroir.  From their restaurant café you can enjoy a bite to and a glass or two of their sparkling wine whilst enjoying views over the vines Their sparkling wine is often referred to as “England in a glass”; I agree, do you?

 

 

Leonardslee Gardens. The UK’s first Pinotage vineyard.

 

Delight in the magnificent Grade 1 listed woodland gardens before your relaxed tour of the vineyard here at Leonardslee. The estate produces five wines which can be enjoyed during a tasting in the mansion. For something a little different, the sabrage demonstration on the terrace is a total must, followed by afternoon tea from Michelin star chef Jean Delport. Alternatively, enjoy a cheese and wine pairing experience with local cheeses and estates wine is a true celebration of artisan produce. There really is something here for everyone.

 

Punchbowl Valley Vineyard  A still wine producer is available to visit for tours by appointment only.

 

RHS Wisley The vineyard at RHS Wisley can be found is a small corner of these world-renowned gardens. Wines are made off site at Plumpton College but can be purchased in the gift shop.

 

 

Did you know?

 

We have even more vineyards in our county that make beautiful wines. These vineyards are not open to the public, but you may discover their wines in restaurants.

Chinthurst Hill

The Iron Railway vineyard

Painshill Park vineyard

 

Time spent at any of Surrey’s vineyards will be thoroughly appreciated by all ages, so take your pick and have a wonderful day out!

 

Enjoy!

Sara x

RECOMMENDATION

This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

 

Photo credits to all of the vineyards above with thanks.

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