6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today click here

English sparkling wine tours are Surrey’s latest attraction

PUBLISHED: 18:52 15 August 2016 | UPDATED: 18:52 15 August 2016

Sibylla with a bottle of High Clandon's Quintessence (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Sibylla with a bottle of High Clandon's Quintessence (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Archant

With a new sparkling wine tour having just launched in Surrey, Matthew Williams gets a taste of what’s involved (strictly in the name of research, you understand...)

Nick among the vines at Albury Vineyard (Photo: Matthew Williams) Nick among the vines at Albury Vineyard (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2016

***

As regular Surrey Life readers will know well, our county’s sparkling wine is on the march and often competing at the very top table of international awards. It was perhaps only a matter of time then before some clever so-and-so connected the dots on the map, and realised that people might travel from far and, well, near to enjoy a day of scenic celebration amongst our Surrey’s thriving vineyards.

So it is that we find ourselves at Guildford station, meeting the Shere-based oenophile and former accountant, Mike Keeble, who has just launched English Sparkling Wine Tours.

Meeting up with our group for the day, we pile on-board our minibus to the opening destination of our tour. Unsurprisingly, things kick off at England’s largest single-estate vineyard, Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, and its sprawling 265 acres. It’s here that we are first reminded that the chalk slopes of the Surrey Hills are the same as those in the Champagne region of France. Fortunate for us all, it seems.

A whistle-stop run through their 30-year history, in their recently-updated cinema room, is followed by a tour of the winery and a tasting in their atmospheric basement – complete with decorative show barrels created using wood salvaged from the 1987 Great Storm.

Next, we’re back on the road and off to a vineyard at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The boutique-as-it-gets one-acre High Clandon is run by the irrepressible Sibylla and Bruce Tindale – it’s basically a small corner of their back garden. It’s not quite any back garden, however, stretching out from their spectacular home and with uninterrupted views all the way to London. What started as a bit of a hobby, remains a hands-on project today but is now picking up international awards. They’ll be celebrating their latest vintage in September, following the marriage of their son. Of course, it’s not Champagne, but they’d also argue it’s not English sparkling wine. They call it Quintessence. However you label it, it’s a fabulous product and their repartee is sparkling.

Pub pit stop

A relaxed lunch at the fittingly quintessentially-English The Queen’s Head in East Clandon is followed by a quick spin down the road to Albury Vineyard – and arguably the most intriguing of the day’s destinations. Intriguing because, while they face the same challenges as the others (largely the changeable English weather!), they’re also a biodynamic vineyard.

If you didn’t know (and we didn’t), this means everything from pruning the vines with the phases of the moon to stuffing manure into cow horns, burying those horns over winter, then stirring a small amount of the fermented manure in rainwater and spraying it over the vineyard. Seriously.

Owner Nick Wenman, vineyard manager Alex Valsecchi and guard terrier Attila are on fine form as they explain some of the stranger goings-on in their search for the perfect drop. Their very first wine, Silent Pool Rosé 2011, was chosen to be served on the Royal Barge as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, so they’re obviously on the right track.

Finally, and this may be a curve ball for a wine tour, but it would be madness not to take the short stroll over to Albury Vineyard’s neighbours, Silent Pool Distillers. Here we discover it’s not just Surrey ‘bubbles’ that are flying off the shelves. Silent Pool sold more than 10 times the amount of their signature gin they’d planned for last year (only their first, even if it feels like they’ve been around for generations). That’s set to double to 90,000 bottles in their second year!

Suffice to say, a day touring some of the best that Surrey has to offer is an extremely pleasant way to spend a few hours. Even for those in the know, it’s an intriguing glimpse into how the world is now getting an increasingly in-demand taste of our county.

• Aimed at the groups market (think corporate, society or club days out), a trip with English Sparkling Wine Tours costs £145 per person. See englishsparklingwinetours.co.uk

***

More local tipples

10 of the best Surrey drinks producers

The best of Surrey wine

The best of Surrey beers

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 10:52

One of the biggest foodie events in the Surrey calendar is back for 2018! Voting is open and this year’s event will take place at G Live, Guildford on Thursday 13 September 2018

Read more
Yesterday, 10:51

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Yesterday, 10:48

A community-spirited pub with its own microbrewery, The Plough has long been a haven for people venturing into the Surrey Hills. Matthew Williams visits

Read more
Yesterday, 10:30

Previously the private chef to the Mauritian president, Jean-Didier Gouges became head chef at The Petersham Restaurant in Richmond’s Petersham Hotel in October

Read more
Mon, 16:17

As the Runnymede Rivers Celebration got under way, Rebecca Younger visited a hotel right at the heart of the action

Read more
Mon, 11:38

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend: art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

We’ve teamed up with Naturalmat to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a duvet and pillow collection worth £225

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

Surrey is England’s most wooded county and the Surrey Hills boasts almost 40 per cent woodland cover. These woodlands hide a wealth of archaeological features. We pick some of the best woodland walks to explore

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Thursday, July 12, 2018

If your skin is loose, developing deep lines, sagging or creating the appearance of jowls you may be a good candidate for the Concept™ Facelift. This type of facelift surgery is unique as the procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, and is far less invasive than traditional methods, meaning the procedure requires minimal down time.

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Surrey villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think red-bricked cottages, cosy pubs, village greens and picture-worthy streets. We picked 14 of the prettiest Surrey villages to live.

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

President of the Reigate-based English Arts Chorale and former King’s Singer Brian Kay conducted Britten’s War Requiem at Winchester Cathedral

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

Enjoy a 4 mile (6.5km) walk around this little known area of Surrey

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

With beautiful countryside, stunning villages and plenty of bluebells during spring, Surrey is an amazing place for a stroll

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search