Published: 18:22, 13 February 2017
Just 15 minutes earlier we were making our way along one of Britain’s busiest motorways.
Now I was waiting for a couple of squirrels to finish their lunch in the middle of the impressive driveway into the sweeping De Vere Wotton House countryside estate in Dorking.
You couldn’t blame them for taking their time in such a stunning location.
Set in 20 acres of stunning gardens, De Vere Wotton House is a prestigious country-house hotel that delivers style and elegance – exceptionally well.
The wonderful history of De Vere Wotton House combined with first class service, refined catering options and beautiful rooms make it the perfect weekend retreat.
We were excited by the invitation to experience the Wine Lovers Weekend, in conjunction with the nearby award-winning Denbies Wine Estate.
Wotton House’s £6 million refurbishment is now complete and the renovation added an extra 16 suites, bringing the total number of rooms to 127, all with stylish en-suites and fantastic views of either the gardens or manor house entrance.
All areas of the hotel have been refurbished and no stone has been left unturned with the historic gardens, welcoming several commissioned sculptures.
After a hassle-free check-in and relaxing drink in the bar, we were taken to the Denbies Wine Estate, just a short drive away in the heart of the Surrey Hills.
Approaching the expansive estate, for a moment, you could really be anywhere in the world. Acres and acres of vineyard rolling into the distant hills, a captivating sight – in the middle of Surrey.
Just over 30 years ago, the new owners of Denbies recognised the unique characteristics of the North Downs landscape. Its south-facing slopes, chalky soil and micro-climate made it ideal for creating England’s largest vineyard.
The 265-acre vineyard was planted in 1986, a bold move taken by Sir Adrian White, who, with his family, moved to the estate in 1984.
The impressive chateau-style winery was completed in 1993, the same year as the maiden wine, Surrey Gold – a floral and fragrant white - was released.
The estate is now one of the most-visited attractions in the South East. Denbies welcomes over 350,000 visitors every year.
Indoor winery tasting tours run every day all year round. A seasonal vineyard train tour gives visitors a new experience in wine growing and making, experiencing the magnificent panoramic views of the Estate and the North Downs.
In a good vintage, it can produce over 400,000 bottles of red, white, rose and sparkling wine, accounting for roughly 10% of total UK wine production.
After our afternoon visit, it was back to Wotton House to enjoy the health club, which has an indoor pool, sauna and steam room.
It set us up nicely for our meal in the 1877 Restaurant where the classic décor reflects the history of De Vere Wotton House, creating a unique atmosphere where guests can enjoy seasonal dishes inspired by British classics.
We may have only been guests for less than 24 hours but it was long enough to appreciate what a beautiful experience it was to stay at De Vere Wotton House.
Anyway, it gives us an excuse to return. Not that we needed one.
WINE LOVERS WEEKEND PACKAGE
Package from £199 per room (double occupancy) includes:
One night bed and breakfast stay in a Superior Room with dinner in the hotel’s 1877 Restaurant and tickets to Denbies Vineyard.
Only bookable direct with De Vere Wotton House on 01306 730000.