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Albury Vineyard

Albury Vineyard

June 20, 2024

Albury Vineyard is a small family-run vineyard located just outside Guildford in the Surrey Hills, close to the Silent Pool. The vineyard specialises in organic wines and adheres to biodynamic principles to produce high-quality English sparkling wine and a still rosé.

We spoke to owner Nick Wenman about how he turned his dream of owning a vineyard into reality in 2009 and launched Albury Vineyard, which now produces 35,000 bottles of English wine per year.

Can you tell us why you set up Albury Vineyard?

I had always dreamt of owning a vineyard. Early retirement from the IT industry, and the emergence of quality English sparkling wines, led to that becoming a reality.  It had become clear that English sparkling wines could compete with Champagne, which set me on the path to opening my own vineyard. We planted our first vines across five acres in 2009, and the following year, we expanded by planting another seven acres, bringing the total to 20,000 vines. Three years ago, in 2021, we planted another 16,000 vines which will result in an annual production of around 35,000 bottles of wine.

Why did you choose that particular location?

With guidance from viticulturist Stephen Skelton, I explored several potential sites and finally settled on a beautiful location at Silent Pool, nestled off the A25. The site had several attributes ideal for viticulture - a south-facing slope for maximum sunlight, excellent drainage, and shelter from harsh winds. The terrain in this location is clay on chalk and has similarities to the renowned Champagne region, which was promising for producing high-quality sparkling wine.

What types of sparkling wines do you produce at Albury?

We grow the traditional Champagne grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier as well as some Seyval Blanc and Pinot Gris. We mainly produce sparkling wines, but our Silent Pool Rosé has become a firm local favourite, frequently selling out during the summer. At the beginning of May we celebrated 15 years since our initial planting and have consistently focused on quality over quantity. We don't sell through supermarkets, retail chains, or export our wines. Most of our market is Surrey-based, with 60% of our wine sold directly to the public with the remainder being supplied to local pubs, restaurants and wine merchants. Some Michelin-starred restaurants also list our wines, including Studio Frantzén at Harrods and Hand of Flowers, and more locally Sorrel in Dorking and Great Fosters in Egham.

Albury Vineyard is organic; what does this entail?

Our commitment to sustainability is evident in our organic practices. We don’t use any systemic chemicals and focus on soil health, which we believe produces better-quality fruit and, therefore, top-quality wine while improving biodiversity.

Do you run any events or wine-tasting sessions?

We host numerous events, including tours and tastings, primarily on weekends. We also cater to corporate events and collaborate with local businesses like Silent Pool Distillery and Mandira’s Kitchen for music events and pop-up experiences.

Why do you think English Sparkling wine has become so popular?

The popularity of sparkling wines like Prosecco has had a significant influence on our market, with many now drinking fizz every week. With English sparkling wine becoming more established, many consumers are eager to try something local and of high quality. The experience of visiting a vineyard and tasting the wine where it's made also adds immense value.

During the pandemic, the number of visitors to our vineyard surged as people sought out unique, local experiences. Our active wine club and strong community ties with local restaurants, pubs, and independent wine merchants reinforce our connection to the Surrey region.

Are there any other local businesses you admire?

We are neighbours to Silent Pool Gin Distillery and Mandira’s Kitchen, so regularly run events in collaboration with these two fantastic businesses. We are also part of Surrey Hills Enterprises, working with over 150 local businesses to promote sustainable practices and local sourcing.

In collaboration with other vineyards in the Surrey Hills, such as Denbies, High Clandon, Chilworth Manor and Greyfriars, we share best practices, experiences, and resources to enhance wine tourism in the area. While Sussex and Kent may have more vineyards, our close-knit community in Surrey continues to thrive and grow, and we are united by the shared passion to continue producing exceptional English sparkling wine.

For more information about Albury Vineyard, visit: www.alburyvineyard.com