I haven’t made a quick trip back to France! The vineyard I’m featuring, is in the Surrey Hills. It is called Denbies and is the largest vineyard in England, covering 265 acres. It can be found on the outskirts of the town of Dorking.
The first time I visited Denbies was for a conference. As I drove towards the venue, I was blown away by the approach. It was as if I was in France, heading towards a small château, surrounded by vineyards but with a background of rolling hills. The venue definitely made an immediate impression on me. So much so, that when I became a teacher trainer, in Surrey, I booked Denbies for training that I was running! I felt it was the perfect setting for the teachers who were learning about teaching French and from the feedback they gave me, they agreed.
Denbies has been family owned since 1984 and the vineyard was planted in 1986. The chalky soil (similar to that of the Champagne region), south facing slopes and microclimate of the North Downs make this ideal for producing award winning wines, especially sparking varieties.
In normal times, when Denbies is completely open, one can visit the indoor winery or the vineyard on a ‘train’ tour. The photo below shows the ‘train’, parked up but ready to go as soon as this becomes possible.
Other facilities include a very lovely gift shop where one can also buy wine, an art gallery, a farm shop, a formal restaurant and a café. At the moment, these are not available but there is ‘The Hatch on the Lawn’ which offers take away coffees etc.
There are seven miles of public footpaths running through the vineyard and last week, on a particularly sunny day, I met a local friend for a walk. As we set off, these two fiberglass cows caught my eye. Brightly coloured cattle can be spotted in various locations across Surrey as they were originally made for the Surrey Hills Cow Parade, a few years ago. This was an initiative run by Surrey Hills Enterprises to showcase the beauty of Surrey and also raise some money for charity.
The next two photos are views from our walk. I always think that the vines look quite ‘sad’ at this time of year.
We took a different route back to make our walk circular and spotted this as we went through some woodland. Can you guess what it is?
A bee hive! There were several among the trees.
As we neared the end of our walk, we spotted this wee wellie boot! It looked quite lonely, all on its own.
Although I have been to Denbies many times before, both for work and leisure, I never tire of the beautiful scenery, nor of the walks through and around the vines. I thought it might be interesting to finish by showing you Denbies from the air.