Vineyards to visit in Surrey and Berkshire
Greyfriars Vineyard (Surrey)
Producer profile from 11th Edition
Michael and Hilary Wagstaff, who met at Oxford, took over this fine vineyard in 2010 known for the quality of its grapes since its inception in 1989. Mike, with a further Masters from Imperial in marine engineering was for 19 years formerly technical director then CEO of Venture, an Aberdeen-based oil and gas company; Hilary a natural scientist also worked as a solicitor as well as bringing up three children. The dynamic couple’s aim was very clear from the start – to convert a hobby interest into a professional specialist fine sparkling wine estate with an eventual output of 100,000 bottles annually. They immediately planted 40 acres to the classic Champenois varieties of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier chiefly in a privileged south-facing block beneath the Hog’s Back. The soils here on the north Surrey downs are quite similar to Champagne’s, essentially clay loam below which are several hundred feet of Cretaceous chalk. Success came quickly, their 2011 Rosé Réserve gaining several awards for a wine of exquisitely subtle pink hue akin to Provençal rosé but with the precision, thrust and energy coming from underground chalk. The same base also suits Chardonnay like a glove -first in the blended blanc de blancs non vintage, and more conspicuously in the judiciously made, vanilla-rich 2014 oaked version – a sumptuous wine for lobster and crab. The Wagstaffs also make a sparkling Fumé from pure Sauvignon Blanc. Prices for this quality are sensibly kept to around £20 per bottle. (ME)
Saturday, 7 Sept at 11.00 – £20 per person with the tour taking approx 90 minutes to 2 hours long.
Enjoy a relaxed walk through the vineyards finishing with a tutored tasting of several of their award winning sparkling and still wines. Normally tastings will take place on the newly built viewing deck situated in the middle of one of their stunning vineyards. Cameras recommended!
Benefit from a 10% discount on all wine purchased on the day of the tour and you will always receive a gift souvenir Greyfriars tasting glass to take home with you.
Incidentally, Greyfriars are unable to take on-line reservations on the day, so please telephone 01483 813712 for availability.
Private Tours and Events
Greyfriars provide bespoke private tours, tasting and events when possible. There is a minimum requirement of fifteen people for the private tours and costs vary depending on the requirements for the tour. Please get in touch with Greyfriars if you would like to discuss tours for smaller groups, as well as any individual needs and specific dates.
Events in September include:
6-7 Sept: Greyfriars will be at the Oxford Wine Festival:
14 Sept: Final Open Day for the Pre-Harvest Festival of 2019, free event, 10:00 – 16:00.
See the events page here.
Cellar Door Shop, open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00 – 5.00pm, details here. You can purchase Greyfriars award winning sparkling wine with limited releases of both still and sparkling wines through the cellar door that cannot be purchased anywhere else. Find a large selection of wine accessories including Greyfriars bottle stoppers, corkscrews, honey, t-shirts, aprons and umbrellas.
Check here to see where you can buy Greyfriars wine.
The vineyard is located on the sunny south facing chalk slopes of the Hog’s Back at Puttenham, just outside Guildford in Surrey. Please click here for the full address and contact details.
Telephone: +44 (0) 1306 876616 (Ext 0)
Producer profile from 11th Edition
Very substantial operation with 107 ha planted on limestone soils near Dorking, of which 94 ha is currently in production. It was founded in 1986 by Adrian and Gillian White and when selecting the site the potential ripening of the grapes was very carefully evaluated. Denbies is also far and away England’s most visited vineyard with around 300,000 visitors a year and a wide number of varieties have been planted over the years and this has now been honed with Pinots Noir and Meunier along with Chardonnay planted on the best hillside plots. More Bacchus has also been established and this is a plus for still wine production with a fine intense nettley character. Vineyard Select bottlings of this variety, Pinot Gris, which is a touch off-dry and barrel-fermented and oak aged Ortega are all successful. The popular and very commercially successful Surrey Gold is a finely tuned off-dry blend of Ortega, Reichensteiner, Müller-Thurgau and Bacchus. As elsewhere, sparkling wines have good potential, the Greenfields Cuvée is a blend dominated by Pinot Noir, with additional Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, it gains complexity from three years on lees while retaining a classic floral English quality. The Rosé Cuvée is fully Pinot Noir and slightly off-dry like all the Denbies sparklers. The Redlands is a supple, lightly perfumed berry-fruited red blended from roughly equal proportions of Pinot Noir and Dornfelder. A fresh young rosé Rose Hill and two whites, Juniper Hill from Bacchus and Schönburger and Flint Valley from Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner are also noteworthy. Among recent developments, a new sparkling Blancs de Noirs, Cubitt Reserve, has been produced from the 2006 vintage from 100% Pinot Noir.
Indoor Tour, (5 possibilities) starting at £11.50.
Outdoor Tours starting at £7.50 on the Vineyard Train to Sparkling Vineyard Train Tour finishing with Sparkling tea hamper at £29.00 to the end of September.
Group Tours provide 4 options which operate from Monday to Friday or you can opt for a special Evening Tour with a minimum of 20 people.
The Gallery Restaurant
Provides a fabulous view over the 265 acre vineyard with spectacular views over Box Hill and the North Downs then this third floor restaurant will be perfect. “Seasonal menus are created by the Gallery team which includes daily specials”.
New this year is “Brunch with a view” at weekends, lunch with a fixed price menu from Monday to Thursday and dinner on Fridays/Saturday. But do please check the website for the various options.
If year round al-fresco dining appeals the light and spacious atrium restaurant is enhanced by many plants and a central water feature. Breakfast, light lunches, hot lunches and afternoon tea are all available. You can check the opening times and options here.
Combine a hotel with a difference in a great location. The Vineyard Hotel blends into the natural surroundings of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the North Downs. An example of best practice in green-tourism and the architect sought to adopt some of the best measures to achieve carbon neutral status. Located on the outskirts of Dorking the hotel and vineyard is conveniently within 10 minutes of Dorking mainline station to London Victoria/Waterloo. Gatwick airport is a 20 minute drive and Heathrow airport is 40 minutes.
The purpose built conference centre and meeting rooms, accommodating up to 500 delegates, provides a great team building venue surrounded by 265 acres of vineyards, perfect for outside and inside events. You might consider Denbies for a unique event be it corporate entertaining or a private occasion, a charity dinner and finally, a venue with a difference for exhibitions and product launches. See here for all the details on the website.
Wine and other gifts available. Check here.
Village Green Farm Shop
Local produce and seasonal vegetables grown in the walled garden.The next Food Fair is on 28 September.
Very comprehensive instructions by road or rail can be found here
Stanlake Park (Berkshire)
Producer profile from 11th Edition
The 11 ha of vineyard here are a modern addition to an ancient estate documented since the 12th century. Vineyards were first planted in 1979, and Thames Valley Vineyards (as it was first called), was a pioneer in the renaissance of English wine. Early success was derived from consistent acclaim for a classic and ageworthy oak-aged, English dry white (now Kings Fumé) based on some of the most successful white varieties grown in England (Bacchus, Ortega, Regner and Scheurebe). With uncharacteristic breadth and structure, the wine shows good complexity and length and will usually keep for up to 5 years. To this has been added both reds and fine sparkling wines. The latter include Brut Superior Rosé from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and their flagship Stanlake Brut, made mainly from Pinot Noir with Chardonnay and sometimes some Gamay grapes.. A varietal Pinot Noir is also made when conditions are most favourable. Stanlake is an important source of contract winemaking as well and wines are made not only for local growers but many from much further afield as well. The Darts on acquiring the property in 2005 invested heavily in their winemaking facility and this would appear to be paying off. (DM)
Public wine tours:
£20.00 per person, lasting approximately 2 hours with spaces still available on the following dates in September:
Sunday 15 Sept starting at 10.30 am
Friday 20 Sept starting at 2.00pm.
See here for further dates in October and November
Tours are designed to be friendly, informal and fun! No prior knowledge is required, your experienced guide will lead you through the ups and downs of English wine-making, accompanied by some generous samples of their award-winning wines. You will visit some of the vines inside the walled garden (weather permitting) before being taken through the winery to see the wine-making process. Next see the grape-pressing area, the fermentation tanks, the barrel room, the ‘fizz’ room and the bottling line. At each stop you’ll be offered a different wine to taste and by the end of the tour you will have tried 6 wines (2 sparkling, 1 rosé, 2 whites and 1 red).
The website notes that as this is a working vineyard your guide cannot always guarantee access to all areas. However, they will do their utmost to show you everything possible in the time available concluding in the Cellar Shop.
Wine Lover Tour:
Saturday, 28 Sept, 10.30am, £20.00 per person.
Are you interested in increasing your wine knowledge? Learning to taste wine like a pro?
Smaller groups (max 15-20 people)
Shorter vineyard and cellar tour and more time tasting wine
A more technical – yet accessible – approach
Designed to be friendly, informal and fun, your WSET trained tour guide will lead you through the world of wine making, giving you some technical insights while still being approachable. No prior knowledge is required, just the desire to learn!
Private tours: Contact Natalia to discuss at email@example.com
Italian Food & English Wine evenings at the Cellar Shop. Discover great food and wine pairings with Nico Centonze, Italian winemaker. The next dinner will be held in December 2019, dates and details to be confirmed soon. Dinners include home-made Italian food paired with Stanlakes English wines. You can register to be on the waiting list and see sample menus from previous dinners here.
Visit the online shop. Or visit the shop in person:
Cellar Shop opening times: Wednesday to Friday 12 pm – 5 pm and Saturday & Sunday 10 am – 5 pm.
For weddings and venue hire enquires only please call 0118 932 0914.
Directions here. Find Google map reference if driving and many options by train to Twyford, the nearest village to Stanlake Park (15 minutes walk) or 3 minute taxi ride. The nearest hub is Reading with many trains to or from Paddington stopping at Twyford. Local taxis listed.
Read the full profiles for these three wineries in Wine behind the label?
Various options here! Obtain a digital version of the full 11th edition, if coffee table books appeal you can order the hardback print version or you can join the Club behind the label which will entitle you to download the digital version as part of your membership cost. You will be able to access other offers and aspire to Michelin Star style cooking and try all Sonia Blech’s mouth watering recipes!