Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Attila's Bite Unleashed (Drink Carefully!)

Attila is Vineyard Manager Alex's Parson Russell Terrier

Attila's Bite, the first spirit from Albury Vineyard, will be released for sale at the end of this week.

It is a fragrant, aromatic eau de vie de vin made from Seyval wine (produced from the 2013 harvest) by the Silent Pool Distillery. It is excellent as a digestive after a meal and, from personal experience, I can recommend it with some good chocolate!

Only 350 bottles (40%, 35cl) will be available for sale from the following retailers, where limited tastings are also available for those intending to buy:

It makes an ideal Christmas present;  each bottle has a Limited Edition gift tag showing the bottle number.

Albury Wine Club members can purchase Attila's Bite direct from the vineyard but we expect it to be sold out by Christmas.

Drink Carefully!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The PM toasts Surrey with Silent Pool Rosé

David Cameron intrigued by Attila's Bite! 
Last week Anne Milton MP hosted an event at the Houses of Parliament to showcase all the fabulous things that Surrey has to offer, including of course our wine.

Silent Pool Rosé was enjoyed by many MP's and their staff as they visited us between important debates and votes in the House. We were particularly delighted that David Cameron stopped by and tasted Silent Pool Rosé which he declared as "lovely".  He also seemed intrigued by Attila's Bite which we will be releasing for sale next week.

As a bottle of Silent Pool Rosé was included in the Christmas hamper (full of Surrey goodies) that was presented to the PM, he will hopefully be enjoying our wine on Christmas Day!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Attila and the Cow Horns

Now that the harvest has finished we are busy tidying up the vineyard and preparing for next year. This of course includes burying our cow horns, filled with dung from a lactating cow, which will form the basis of biodynamic preparation 500.

Biodynamics is an advanced form of organic viticulture. "Bio" means life and "Dynamics" means energy. It's an holistic approach which aims to harmonise nature's elemental forces of the earth (the soil), water (the vines), air (the weather) and fire (the sun). It also recognises that the phases of the moon have a significant influence on plants through gravitational forces.

The cow horns will be dug up in the Spring and the contents dynamised in water. The solution is then sprayed on the vineyard to improve fertility and encourage the natural sense of terrior in the grapes which will help produce great wine.

I know that some of you will think that we are crazy (including Alex's dog Attila!) but many of the great vineyards around the world are convinced by the biodynamic approach, including Romanée-Conti in Burgundy, Coulee de Serrant in the Loire, Beaux Freres in Oregon, Hensche in Australia and Jean-Pierre Fleury in Champagne. I'm just happy to be in such great company.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cow Pat Pit

Cow Pat Pit (CPP) is a biodynamic preparation that stimulates soil activity and enhances the humus forming processes of the soil. It also helps to initiate the fermentation of manure and activates organic matter conversion in compost. Research carried out after the Chernobyl disaster showed how it helped reduce the effects of radioactive fallout on land where it was applied.

It is made by mixing cow manure with crushed egg shell and basalt dust, which is then fermented with biodynamic preparations 502-507 for a three to four months in a 12 inch deep pit lined with bricks.

Unfortunately we didn't get around making our own CPP this year, but instead have sourced some from the Biodynamic Association which we have added to a compost pile that will be spread on the vineyard in the next few weeks. This will help address deficiencies some nitrogen and minerals deficiencies which were identified by a petiole analysis earlier in the year. Biodynamics and science working in harmony!

Friday, 24 October 2014

The weather shines on our 2014 Harvest

At around 8.30pm on Wednesday we delivered our final load of grapes to our winemakers - 5 tonnes of of lovely clean ripe organic Pinot Meunier which concluded a mammoth picking day of 12 tonnes of grapes, totalling around 28 tonnes of fruit for the harvest overall.

Undoubtedly this has been our best year so far. Unlike the last three years, the weather has been really kind to us; no frosts in the spring, good fruit set in the early summer and lovely warm sunshine in July, some of August, September and early October. The rain even held off, and the sun made a showing, on our picking days.

This has resulted in some really lovely must (grape juice) with good sugars, which is now fermenting at the winery. Overall we will probably be able to make around 6,000 bottles of our Silent Pool Rosé and 18,000 bottles of classic cuvée, blanc de blanc, and rosé quality sparkling wines.

Huge thanks to Alex, Andrea, JB, Peter, Linda and Lucy, as well all of you who have been involved during the year, especially family, friends and wine club members who picked last Saturday.

Time for a bit of a rest, but not for long as we will be bottling Attila's bite in a couple of weeks time and then pruning will start in December! There will be a harvest party on December 13th for wine club members and those involved in the harvest - details to follow soon.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Crushing grapes by hand!

Last week we picked some of our Chardonnay grapes and crushed them by hand to make a Pied de Cuve. The idea of this is to cultivate naturally occurring yeasts on the skins of the grapes which can be used to ferment wine.

Using natural yeasts in this way, instead of commercial yeasts, means we can make two types of ‘natural wines’ - a biodynamic sparkling and a Petillant Naturel. We hope that these wines will have a real sense of ‘place’ or terroir, having been made with natural yeasts from the vineyard. Many people enjoy biodynamic and natural wines as they are lower in alcohol, softer in bubbles and have very few sulphites added.

The winemaker has very little control over the process of making these wines and has to rely on nature to do its work. As far as we are aware, no other vineyards in England have made a Pet Nat so maybe Albury Vineyard will be the first. Most people either love or hate wines made in this way. We will be interested to see what you think of ours!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Here we go again! Harvest 2014

We picked our first grapes of the 2014 harvest on Thursday - around 2.5 tonnes of Seyval which have been pressed to produce some 1500 litres of juice which in the wine world is called must. This will be fermented to produce a wine, probably blended with some Chardonnay, and then fermented again in the bottle for two years or more, to produce a quality English sparkling Blanc de Blancs (made from only white grapes).

It's been a good year so far for growing grapes but we are going to wait a week or two before picking our Chardonnay and Pinots to try and get the sugars and acids exactly where we want them to be, and also to give the grapes a bit more phenolic maturity. At the moment we are planning to start picking again on Saturday 18th October but this will depend on some more tests next week and of course the weather!

Happy days :)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Harvest getting closer - wine club, family & friends picking date set for 18th October

So far this year we have been blessed with pretty good weather; certainly a lot better than the last few years. As a result, our grapes are ripening sooner than last year and we are now planning our harvest.

It looks like we will start picking week commencing 6th October and finish on Saturday 18th October, when we will get together with wine club members, family and friend to complete the harvest. The best laid plans are of course subject to the weather and dates may change!

If you would like to be involved in the harvest on the 18th October please register by emailing me at You must be prepared to be on the vineyard by 8.00am for a briefing; you can either stay until lunch at around 1.00pm or pick for the whole day. It's quite hard work but great fun and those involved will receive a free bottle of Silent Pool Rosé next year, and will also be invited to the harvest party in early November.

Hoping for a bit more sun in the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, 7 September 2014


During the last few weeks the grapes have started their ripening process, which in viticulture is called veraison. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes change colour from from green to red and the Seyval and Chardonnay turn more translucent. 

Grape berries have two distinct growth phases. The initial phase is when the cells divide and expand and the grapes begin to swell and fill out the bunch. After veraison the acidity decreases due to degradation of malic acid, making tartaric acid the predominant acid. At the same time sugars (glucose and fractose) are accumulated and the volume of water entering the grapes decreases resulting in an increase in sugar concentration. The level of sugar accumulation in the berries is dependant on leaf photosynthesis which is why we are hoping for some more sun! This week we will also be trailing a product made from yeast derivatives which is designed to improve the phenolic maturity of the berries.

As the fruit ripens it becomes more attractive to the birds so we've put up our KiteHawks which will hopefully keep them at bay.

Our New Barn

We now have our very own barn on the vineyard where we can store the tractor, it's various attachments and other equipment. It will also be a a base for vineyard tours and we hope to be able to open up a small retail area once we have a licence.

Of course we had to have a little celebration so we invited Wine Club members, family and friends to join on the vineyard to sample our Silent Pool Rosé 2013 (now sadly sold out!). About 100 supporters visited during the day and some had picnics on the vineyard. They were also treated to tours around the vineyard from Alex, and Ian, from the  Surrey Distillery showed visitors their shiny new distillery next door at Sherbourne Farm

The harvest is getting nearer and we are hoping for some good weather in September to ripen the grapes. The likely harvest date for Wine Club members, family and friends is Saturday 18th October, although this could slip a week dependant on the weather.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Attila's Bite


Last year we had a problem ripening our Seyval, the majority of which we decided wasn't good enough to make quality sparkling wine. So what to do? Luckily a new distillery has moved in next door to us and we have decided to make a grappa style spirit from what amounts to around 900 litres of Seyval wine.

Attila's Bite, as we intend to call this fragrant aromatic spirit, is named after Alex's new Parson Russell Terrier, who prowls the vineyard chasing the pheasant and other unwanted visitors. We hope that it will be available for sale in September. It will pack quite a punch so please drink responsibly!

Albury Estate Sparkling to be released in November

Earlier this week we tasted what will be the very first release of our quality bubbly. It's a blend of wines made from our 2011 and 2012 harvests, which were partly aged in oak before being bottled for secondary fermentation early last year. We were delighted with the results; a real credit to our vineyard manager Alex, who carefully nurtures the vines, and also winemaker Matthieu at Litmus.

During the last 18 months the wine has been through secondary fermentation in the bottle (to give it its fizz) and then matured on the lees to develop it's character. The final stage of producing sparkling wine using the traditional method (or méthode champenoise) comprises riddling the wine so that the lees from the secondary fermentation collects in the neck of the bottle. This is then frozen, removed from the bottle, and then replaced with a mixture of the base wine and some sugar, called the dosage.  The sugar is added to balance the acidity in the wine; we want to produce a dry (Brut) sparkling so after many tastings (!) we settled on just 11grams sugar/litre.

Stephen Skelton MW, who was there for the tasting, commented:

"This wine has a firm backbone of ripe acidity, superbly balanced with a touch of sweetness. It has good fruit, both on the nose and palate, and finishes on a long, firm note. An excellent first sparkling wine from Albury."

Albury Estate Sparkling will be released for sale at the end of November. Unfortunately we only have 1500 bottles so supply will be very limited.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A great start to the year!

Flowering Chardonnay
Flowering and fruit set is now well underway on the vineyard and, whilst I don't want to temp fate, the potential for this year is looking very good.

The warm start to the year resulted in bud break about 4 weeks ahead of last year and the good weather since then means that flowering and fruit set are also well ahead. This is good news because it means that we stand a better chance of some sun and warmth when the grapes will be ripening in August and September. The warm summer last year (when this years florescence was formed) has also resulted in larger potential bunches. No doubt Alex will want to take off some fruit soon!

Thanks to Alex the vineyard is looking great, with all crown thinning and wire lifting completed and the grass mown. Spraying is all on schedule and soon we will be applying biodynamic preparation 501 (horn silica) to give the vines a bit more energy to help with their growth. Alex is also doing some shoot tipping to help with fruit set. Soon we will be leaf plucking to ensure that the newly formed bunches get the optimum level of sunlight.

There's still a long way to go and we will have to be very wary of mildews setting in if we get a wet spell. However there is already talk of producing a small amount of Pinot Noir red if the good weather continues!

Normally the harvest is around 120 days from flowering so pencil in mid October in your diaries.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Silent Pool Rosé wins The Derby

Guests and racegoers at the Investec Derby Festival, taking place on 6th &7th June, will be raising a glass of English wine as the racecourse serves a selection of locally sourced wines for the first time.

Epsom Racecourse is introducing four local still and sparkling wines produced by Albury Organic Vineyard and Litmus Wines who are based in Surrey, Hoffman & Rathbone in West Sussex and Gusbourne Estate in Kent/Sussex borders.

Guests in the Jockey Club Suite will be able to enjoy a sample of all four wines and the Silent Pool Rosé will be available to the public in Owners and Trainers, the Mezzanine Champagne Bar and the new Tree Bar in the Grandstand.

The wines to be served are:

Albury Organic Vineyard Silent Pool Rosé 2013
Litmus White Pinot 2011
Rathbone Rosé Réserve 2010
Gusborne Pinot Noir 2011

Simon Durrant, General Manager of Epsom Downs Racecourse said, “During the two day Investec Derby Festival we try and source as much produce from local farms and we are delighted to be working with local vineyards and wine producers for the first time and hope to extend our partnership with them to other hospitality outlets in 2015.”

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Wine Club Fun at the Vineyard

Great fun at the vineyard on Saturday as we released our Silent Pool Rosé 2013 to our Wine Club members.

Nearly 100 wine lovers turned up to the event, when we tasted not only the new release of our still rosé but also some Albury Pinot Gris and a Pétillante Naturel from the Loire Valley. An alcoholic haze enveloped the vineyard!

Miraculously the sun shone for the whole of Alex's popular tour of the vineyard and the rain only arrived for a short period while we were devouring the BBQ expertly prepared by Walter, followed by Lucy's delicious salads & brownies and Linda's yummy lemon drizzle cake; all washed down with some more of our Silent Pool Rosé and local beers from the Tillinbourne Brewery.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and gave a huge thumbs up to our latest release. Happy days!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

16,000 Bottles of Albury Estate Bubbly!

Winemaker Matthieu with the first bottle of our biodynamic bubbly

It's been a crazy week, which started with the bottling of 16,000 bottles of Albury Estate sparkling wine from grapes we picked from last years harvest.  The wine will go through secondary fermentation during the next month or so to give it it's fizz, and then mature in the bottle for probably for at least two years to give it the special character of a quality English bubbly.

We are actually producing three different sparkling wines from last years vintage; a Classic Cuvée (produced from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier), an English Blanc de Blancs (made mainly from Chardonnay with some Seyval), and just 280 bottles of a biodynamic Chardonnay which was fermented with wild yeasts from the vineyard.

This week we've also been delivering our Silent Pool Rosé 2013 to stockists and restaurants so that they had it available for this weekend, the start of English Wine Week. Yesterday we had our annual Wine Club event and tomorrow we have an open day at the vineyard. Taking it easy in my retirement!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Press Release - Silent Pool Rosé 2013 Local Stockists and Restaurants

Silent Pool Rosé was one of only three English wines served on the Royal Barge as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and is currently being served at the Royal Opera House as well as many local restaurants.

The 2013 vintage will be released for sale on 24th May 2014, the beginning of English Wine Week, and will be available at the following stockists:

Caves de Pyrene, Guildford
*House of Wines
Kingfisher Farm Shop, Abinger Hammer
Taurus Wines, Bramley
The Butchers Hall
The Godalming Food Company
The Guildford Wine Company
The Vineyard, Dorking
Village Greens Farm Shop, Ockley
*Vintage Roots

* Available on-line

It will also be available at the following local pubs and restaurants:

Bertram Bees, Westcott
Britten’s Restaurant, Guildford
Gomshall Mill, Gomshall
Kinghams Restaurant, Shere
Little Dudley House, Dorking
The Black Swan, Ockham
The Drummond Arms, Albury
The Percy Arms, Chilworth
The Red Lion, Shamley Green
Two to Four Restaurant, Dorking
William Bray, Shere
William IV, Little London
Silent Pool Rosé is certified Organic and is made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. It is a refreshing still dry wine and is ideal as an accompaniment to light meals or al-fresco dining.

The vineyard is situated in the beautiful Surrey Hills near Guildford and is one of the few organic vineyards in England.

Nick Wenman, owner of Albury Vineyard said “We are delighted with Silent Pool Rosé 2013 which we believe is our best wine so far. We are planning to release our first quality sparkling wine later this year in time for Christmas”.


Albury Organic Vineyard - Nick Wenman, t: 07768 863650

Bottle shots of the wine and pictures of Albury Vineyard are available on request

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Silent Pool Rosé 2013 to be released on 24th May

Silent Pool Rosé 2013 will be released for sale on Saturday 24th May, the start of English Wine Week.

The wine was made from some of the ripest hand-picked Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes from last years harvest. Having recently tasted some barrel samples we are delighted with the wine and believe it is our best vintage yet.

Stephen Skelton MW comments:

"The wine is a pale salmon pink, with distinct Pinot raspberry and strawberry tones on the nose. On the palate the wine has a lively fruit character, with balanced acidity and a good fresh finish."

Silent Pool Rosé is certified organic with an alcohol level of 11%. Only 4,200 bottles have been produced, most of which have been pre-allocated. Details of stockists will be available on our website soon.

The first Albury Wine Club event (for members only) will be held on the vineyard on Saturday 24th May starting at 11.00 and will include a light lunch . The vineyard will be open to the public for the first time on Monday 26th May at a cost of £5 per person (including a tour of the vineyard and a tasting). Early booking is essential as numbers will be limited, so if you are interested please email for details.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Frosty Scare

We had a close call last night as temperatures on the vineyard fell to -1.7C, resulting in a light frost. We got a text from the weather station at around 5.00am, with a warning that the temperature had fallen below zero, but by the time we got there the sun was rising. Fortunately there shouldn't be too much damage as the vines are only at budburst or first leaf stage at the moment and are fairly resilient up to -1.9C.

The next few weeks are a crucial time for us. As a result of the warm start to the year, the vines are about one month ahead of where they were last year when there was snow on the ground in early April.

The boujies are still our main defence as they warm the vineyard by between 1.5C and 2C. However they are pretty messy and I'm not too happy abot the environmental impact even though we use them infrequently. Next year we will take a look at a new wind machine that Denbies are purchasing from New Zealand which reputably protects 10 acres of vines.

More frost risk tonight so I'll be avoiding too much wine and off to bed early!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Surrey Life Food and Drinks Awards

We are delighted to have been entered for the Food and Drink Producer category of the Surrey Food and Drinks Awards. The award is sponsored by Lythe Hill Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, and last year was won by Hogs Back Brewery.

Surrey has some amazing local food and drink. As well as wine and beer there are producers of beef, cheese, watercress, smoked trout, soft drinks, and even ice cream. Many local people want to support local producers and the Surrey Life Food and Drinks Awards helps to increase awareness of the amazing produce available in Surrey.

Please support the event and vote for us here.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

English Petillant Naturel!

I spent Friday afternoon on the vineyard doing a bit of filming with Monty Waldin, that may lead to a project to produce English Petillant Naturel (or "Pet Nat" for short).

Pet Nat is a naturally sparkling wine that is made with little or no additives. It is bottled part way through the fermentation of the grapes, so that the naturally produced CO2 is absorbed by the wine to give it its fizz. This is different to Champagne, or traditional English bubbly, which goes through a secondary fermentation process with added yeasts and sugars to produce the bubbles.

Pet Nat wines are low in alcohol (often less than 8%) and vary enormously in flavour and fizziness. The winemaker has very little control over the process and has to rely on nature to do its work. The resultant wine will therefore always be different from one vineyard to another and from one year to the next, but many are fresh, exciting and full of character. You'll either love it or hate it but the uncertainty of what it's going to turn out like can be great fun.

Pet Nat is becoming really popular in mainland Europe, particularly in France and Italy. Maybe Albury Organic Vineyard will produce the first English Petillant Naturel!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Short Back and Sides for our Vines

The same vine before and after pruning
This is the time of the year for pruning. Alex's instructions are to "prune hard and keep it simple". It's important to cut out any diseased wood and to focus on the long term health and efficiency of the vine, which essentially means "less is more". We're therefore being fairly aggressive with our pruning this year, which will hopefully result in better quality fruit, if a little less volume.

Nearly three quarters of the vines have been pruned which means we only have about 5000 left to go! Earlier this week Albury Wine Club Premier Cru members helped by pruning their own vines.

Albury Wine Club Premier Cru members
Once the vines are pruned we spray all the major cuts with VineVax, which is a Trichoderma that helps the wounds heal quicker and prevents the spread of any disease.

Must get to the hairdresser's myself this week for a short back and sides!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Please pray for a cold snap!

We vineyard owners are probably in the minority hoping for some colder weather in February. The rain isn't a big problem because all we are doing at this time of year is pruning. But if the unusually high temperatures persist the vines will bud early and will be very susceptible to spring frosts.

Alex (with a little help from me) is well over halfway through pruning the vines. We will leave pruning those in the areas most prone to frost until last, with the hope that it will delay them budding. We will also tie down the fruiting canes as late as possible, which may give them a bit more protection at the bud swell stage.

Come April we will no doubt be out in the vineyard in the middle of the night trying to raise the temperature with our boujies. I've just ordered some more, as well as some Valerian (biodynamic preparation 507) which we will spray on the vines before a frost. Valerian is a liquid made from the flowers of the herb valerian which stimulates the plant's metabolism, effectively warming it up from the inside.

I'm definitely a proper farmer now....always complaining about the weather!