Denbies Wine Estate is an international award-winning wine estate situated in the protected south facing slopes of the North Downs in the town of Dorking. We love that Denbies offers visitors of all ages a fascinating insight into all aspects of the wine producing process all year round. A total 265 acres have been planted, which is three times the size of any other wine estate in the United Kingdom and has met the promise of producing some of the finest sparkling and table wines in Europe. From its first planting in 1986 to now, the estate has flourished. From royal visits to its very own hotel opening this summer – it’s all happening at Denbies…
Let’s start at the very beginning… the estate was purchased in 1850 by Thomas Cubitt, a renowned builder at the time who is best known for designing the east front of Buckingham palace, a large portion of Belgravia, Queen Victoria’s Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight and the Denbies house. The house was actually named after a farmer named John Denbie whose farm originally sat at the top of Ashton Hill in the 16th century, but the house was sadly demolished in 1850 with the arrival of Thomas Cubitt.
Shortly after purchasing the estate, the new Denbies house was built and none other than Prince Albert visited for the grand opening. This honour was commemorated by his planting of several rare conifers. The already impressive estate quickly grew, and an astonishing 400 people once worked on the estate with its very own fire service, railway, school, pharmacy and church. All good things must sadly come to an end though, because in 1953 most of the house was demolished – now only the laundry and gardeners house remain.
Although the house was demolished, the estate remained in the Cubitt family until 1984, when the White family bought the land and transformed it into the astonishing vineyard it is today. The vineyard was planted shortly after purchase in 1986 and has had the honour of two royal visits since firstly from the Queen and later Prince Charles and Camilla.
Denbies is now 627 acres of estate, 200 of which are woodland with 10 estate houses that make up the Denbies empire. Still owned by the White family, Denbies produces internationally award-winning, cool climate sparkling wines using the traditional grape varieties, grown on south facing chalky soil which stretch all the way from the cliffs of Dover. Coupled with a comparatively warm and dry microclimate enables Denbies Estate to consistently produce a wide range of wine styles of exceptional quality.
Denbies’ wines are produced from a variety of grapes suited to cool-climate wine production, including Bacchus, Ortega, Reichensteiner and Rondo as well as classic varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Denbies’ sparkling wines are produced using traditional methods and ageing on the lees for complexity, whilst the still wines undergo gentle de-stemming and pressing, some oak ageing and malolactic fermentation for certain styles. With a total of 20 different wines now being produced there’s a wine to suit every palate.
Tours are not in short supply at Denbies. There’s one to suit all sizes and interests from the indoor winery tour (available throughout the year), outdoor tours (ideal for warmer months – don’t forget your camera) and evening group tours for a more exclusive experience at Denbies (note, this is for a minimum of 20 guests). For the full list of tours and experiences click here.
Denbies currently has two restaurants on site; the Conservatory restaurant and the Gallery restaurant (pictured above) which is located on the third floor with spectacular views across the 256-acre vineyard. The seasonal menus here are created by the Gallery team and include daily specials with produce sourced from local supplies where possible across the south-east of England. For more information and opening times, visit the website here.
We are so excited about the new hotel, which will be officially open in August 2019 and will offer 17 en suite rooms, a new Orangery restaurant and bar which is also due to open soon to accompany the hotel. An open landscape garden will feature two cabana style seating areas where guests can enjoy local cheese and charcuterie accompanied by wine made and produced on the vineyard. One thing we particularly love about the hotel is that it aims to be 100% self-powered by solar energy.
Lastly, during your visit be sure to peruse the wine and gift shop, art gallery and Village Greens Farm Shop – we hear you can pick up some really lovely gift and fresh produce. To make a reservation or to find out more information on Denbies Wine Estate visit the website here.
Images: Helen Dixon, Martin Cox & Denbies