In our series highlighting travel itineraries, weekends away, and our unique retailers we’re known for in Dorking, this #TravelThursday we feature our independent spirit(s). Join Notallaboutskinny co-founder Kate as she shares her favourite bits of autumn in Dorking. Kate is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach and a Dorking local.
Autumn is such a wonderful time of the year to visit Dorking. Our thriving market town, enveloped by the countryside of the Surrey Hills, is a great place for a weekend break or a relaxing day out. If you’re arriving by train at this time of year, you’ll pass through the breathtakingly beautiful crimson-tinged vines of Denbies Wine Estate. If you’re visiting by car, you’ll be treated to the spectacular display of autumnal colours stretching the length of the Mickleham Bends as the trees turn from vibrant greens to the most intense shades of yellow and red.
Whilst you may have heard that it’s only 75 days until Christmas, let’s not be hasty! (Although I hear we’ve got a fantastic all-day Christmas Festival planned for the 25th November — save the date!) Why not take time to take this month to truly savour all that autumn in Dorking has to offer. Come and visit us and drink in the glorious Surrey countryside… which leads rather me nicely onto some fabulous suggestions for your weekend, and your wine rack, as we transition from those lazy summer days to crisp autumn evenings.
Denbies Wine Estate has long been a draw for visitors from out of town. In 1986, the owners began planting some 265 acres of rolling vines which nestle in an area close to the bottom of Box Hill. Today, they’re one of the largest producers of wine in the UK and have won multiple awards for their sparkling wine production. Try the Greenfields Cuvee NV sparkling wine made from the very best hand-picked grapes using the classic champagne blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Denbies were also the first ever recipients of an international gold medal for an English rosé wine and more recently, they were awarded an international gold medal for their Noble Harvest Dessert wine. In addition to offering fun tours of the cellar and vines, this weekend, Denbies plays host to the annual exhibition of The Dorking Group of Artists and you’ll find an exciting display of over 250 original pieces of art for sale.
Dorking is an easy 7 minute drive or a quick 20 minute stroll from Denbies. There are plenty of beautiful, accessible walking and cycling paths directly into town.
From Denbies Wine Estate, take a stroll through the picture perfect vines and into town where there are more delicious wine options on offer at Dorking’s only independent wine merchant, The Vineyard.
This treasure trove of a shop is packed with a huge range of wines to suit every palate and pocket. If you’re holding on to summer, there’s a great range of rosés from Provence and if you’re a lover of bubbles, you’ll find plenty to choose from amongst the array of champagnes, proseccos and sparkling wines. Pop in for a chat and John and the team will help you select something delicious. What’s more, it’s “Rioja Month” at the shop where the team are celebrating the many expressions of this fabulous Spanish wine. If you pop in on Saturday, you can sample some of the team’s favourite choices. I’m currently sipping on a Cerro Anon Gran Reserva as I type, and I can highly recommend it to accompany a hearty autumnal stew (which you can find on the menu at the Dorking Deli at the moment).
If wine isn’t your thing, Dorking is also home to a fabulous range of craft gins, created right here on our doorstep. If you’re a gin aficionado, you’ve almost certainly heard of Silent Pool, a distinctive gin instantly recognisable by its exquisite turquoise blue glass bottle, which is distilled nearby just a short drive along the A25.
Dorking is also home to Helen and Kate, the genius creative forces behind the Gin Kitchen.
They have created three delicious gins made in small batches and packaged in beautiful apothecary style ceramic vessels. Their “Gutsy Monkey” winter gin is a smooth, rich, spiced gin, ideal for warming the cockles on a chilly autumn evening whilst the “Dancing Dragontail” summer gin, a light, fresh and aromatic spirit with citrus notes, is more suited to those warmer still-eeking-out-the-summer nights. The latest addition to their range is the cheeky “Blushing Monkey” pink gin. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, they’ve also created their very own “Eternal Absinthe”, a delicate mix of botanicals and red rose petals but tread carefully… it’s absolutely delicious and just a trifle moreish! Call ahead to the Gin Kitchen to arrange a private gin tasting, a tour of the distillery or even your very own distilling experience.
Vines, wines and artisan spirits are just a tiny taste of what’s on offer in our bustling town this autumn. In the coming weeks Dorking has a motorsport event, sporting events, music and beer festivals, and a Christmas festival that will last all the live long day.
For now, I am going to revel in the brilliant sunshine, changing leaves and the last of this Rioja!