I’m going a bit off piste with today’s blog as it’s not technically in London – but a 40 minute train journey from the Capital is certainly worth it to visit England’s biggest vineyard. And what’s more, I bagged us a cheeky online voucher deal too!
We thought we’d make use of the long bank holiday weekend and drove down to Dorking to take a train ride (AKA a Landrover Defender pulling 3 carriages) around Denbies vineyard, whilst enjoying a glass of their award-winning sparkling and strolling around the vines at the same time. It was a lovely day and we arrived to see a maze of cars which made me a little nervous as to how busy it might be. However, the sheer size of the vineyard and with lots of fun tours to do, people generally disperse and it never felt too overcrowded. An additional help was found in a group of maypole dancers keeping a big group occupied out the front!
A quick venture through the main building to see the (all important) shop and café, but with little time before our tour departed we hot footed it straight to the farm shop as we are absolute suckers for good meat and cheese!
The farm shop did not disappoint – incredible looking organic veg, lots of cheese to sample and some award winning sausages – which would have been even better if we could have sampled some cooked ones. They also sell vines to plant in the garden which I was sorely tempted with – but on our shade covered balcony we even struggle with the plants that are apparently ‘impossible to kill’, so I fear a grape vine is a bridge too far!
We hopped on our slightly delayed tour, which has recorded commentary whilst it’s on the move and then the tour guide takes over at two stopping points en route. To be honest, I was more taken aback by the beautiful views than the commentary itself, and the rolling vistas, blanketed in fully blooming vines is a beautiful sight to behold. The first stop was a gorgeous view overlooking the vineyard and Dorking where we were given a glass of their demi-sec sparkling wine. With the warning that it was slightly sweet I was a bit worried – but in actual fact it was lovely! Yes there was a touch of sweetness but by no means too much and I could easily manage a few glasses, but maybe not stick to it for a whole evening. My boyfriend actually thought it would be great to have as an after dinner drink – and we will let you know the results as we did of course buy a bottle. The tour guide was really informative but I have to admit I did switch off a bit after a glass of bubbles and was completely content just enjoying the ride and the views along the way. I think I’d have to be a bit more alert for the other tours on offer which are inside the winery. But these are certainly on our list to try – especially the one that includes a food and wine pairing.
A last stop at the shop in the main building to purchase our demi-sec and a peek at the café – which although situated in a beautiful atrium lacked appeal on the day to enjoy a lovely glass of wine there, which was a shame; This may have been because it had quite a family, cafeteria-esque atmosphere during our visit.
However, seen as it is completely free to visit Denbies and have a wander around I would highly recommend it. And for £6.50 each (2 for £9 on Travelzoo), you really have to give the train tour a go. It may not be somewhere I’d go back to week after week, as it felt a bit industrious, but it is a lovely spot if you have a spare afternoon and fancy a short venture outside of London for a change of scenery – and a rather magnificent one at that.