Denbies' Vineyard interview
Hi Christopher, welcome to the English Wine Collection’s Vineyard Focus. Could you tell us about the team at Denbies, how did you get into the wine business and what led you to English wine?
Following my father’s purchase of the estate, my family have lived her since 1984. On the advice of geologist Professor Selley who identified the potential for top-quality vine growing, Denbies' vineyard was planted and our first wine was produced in 1989. So it is true to say that I have grown up immersed in the world of English wine!
Denbies has a hard-working and dedicated team both out in the vineyard, in the winery and also within the visitor centre, ensuring that all tours, events and restaurants give our guests a unique experience to remember.
With such a wonderful hot sunny summer, we’ve had probably the best start to the growing season this year. How is everything looking at Denbies’ vineyard?
The 2018 harvest is looking very promising, with good yields forecast and excellent quality. We are beginning our harvest on 7th September for the Solaris grapes and will then move on to other varietals in the following weeks.
We all know pairing wines with the right foods can add to the texture and flavours of the wine. What are the ‘perfect pairings' for Denbies' wines, where’s a good place to start?
Denbies has a broad range of wines and styles, from still whites, to reds and sparklings, therefore there is a rich diversity of food pairings for our wines. Our Cubitt premium sparkling wines work wonderfully with seafood and monkfish, whilst our Noble Harvest dessert wine is perfect with caramel desserts and local cheeses.
How big is the vineyard at Denbies and how many different grape varieties do you grow?
Denbies' vineyard covers 265 acres, planted with 18 varieties. We are due to plant a further hectare in 2019.
What are your favourite wines and why?
It’s very difficult to answer as I really enjoy all of our wines for different occasions. Redlands red is a particular favourite, as it’s rich in cherry notes and an approachable wine that pairs really well with a variety of foods.
Is it possible to visit Denbies? If so what can we expect from a tour/tasting?
Absolutely. Denbies is open 7 days a week and offers indoor winery tours and tastings and seasonal outdoor tours, where visitors can learn all about the history of the estate and winemaking. We also offer food and wine tastings and host special events throughout the year.
What challenges do you face at Denbies and what plans do you have to overcome them?
Our main challenges at Denbies revolve around the weather, something that is rather out of our control! Late frosts and damp weather can pose difficulties for the vineyard team, however recent investment in our ‘tow and blow’ machine and the vigilance of our vineyard managers has meant that we are well-placed to protect our grapes.
What are your thoughts on Brexit? Has Denbies started to put any plans in place to be ready?
Although effects of Brexit cannot yet be ascertained, we at Denbies are certain that the popularity of English wine will continue to grow, as will export opportunities. There is such a marked interest building in our wines outside of the UK due to the quality that English wines offer, that we are confident that this will not be dampened by any economic issues.
Looking to the future where does Denbies see itself in the English Wine industry?
Denbies continues to see itself at the forefront of the English wine industry as we move into the future. Our plans are ambitious and include considerable investment in our winery and an ever-expanding range of wines, along with the extension of our on site accommodation in 2019 with a 17 bedroom hotel. We are proud to be centre-stage at such an exciting time for English wines and want to continue to offer top-quality wines and experiences for our visitors.
Anything else you think we should know?
Denbies have recently joined forces with local vineyards Chilworth Manor, Albury Organic, Greyfriars and High Clandon to promote ourselves as ‘Vineyards of the Surrey Hills,’ with our first joint event at Woking Festival. We are also exhibiting at the Surrey Hills Food Festival on 15th/ 16th September hosted at Denbies vineyard and later on in November at Winchester Wine Festival so do come and see us!