Denbies Wine Estate

Denbies Wine Estate London Road Dorking Surrey RH5 6AA

This is England’s largest single estate vineyard – producing 12 award-winning wines, including a world-beater in the shape of its Chalk Ridge Rose, which took top gong at the International Wine Challenge Competition. It's particularly well known for its sparkling whites, but the modern vines were only planted here in the 1980s when the current owner bought the farm and realised he needed to do something radical to make it work. As it turns out, he wasn't the first one to recognise the quality of soil and how the lay of the land lent itself to grape production – research showed that, in AD100, the Romans had a vineyard at Bagden Farm, less than 350 yards from Denbies Estate. The best way to appreciate this, of course, is to come and do a tasting. Wine tours operate all year round (with outdoor and indoor options), and there's even a 'Vineyard Train' that runs around the vines. If you find yourself more tempted to swallow than spit, you can purchase bottles at the cellar door. Those of a more active persuasion (or people who have a tendency to put their hands up for daft challenges when full of Dutch courage) should check out the Bacchus Festival, which happens here annually, just before the grape harvest in September. The festival features a series of running events, ranging from a short fun run through to a full marathon distance challenge through the vines, across the sprawling 627-acre estate and out along the bridleways and trails that crisscross the Surrey Hills - with the opportunity for athletes to sample Denbies' full range of wines en route. Messy, messy, messy. Many entrants run in fancy dress, and there's a big shindig at the end of it all.  

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