OWC Days Out: Danbury Ridge

I tasted the Danbury Ridge wines in a buying meeting back in June 2021. The reputation of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay preceded them: the first releases met with nothing but praise not only in the wine press, but (most importantly!) in our own tasting room at OWC HQ. They are wines not ripe and full by the standards of English wine as it might be perceived today, but by anyone’s standards.

Bowled over by what I was trying, I didn’t lose a second typing out a WhatsApp message to a friend and old colleague. I think one of the greatest pleasures of working in the wine trade is the opportunity to meet amazing people along the way. My own wine journey has taken me from my hometown, to Italy, to a London office, and to green, old Oxfordshire. In that same Clapham office, I crossed paths with Kim, who eventually left grey London for the leafy Essex countryside.

With wines as good as these, I couldn’t blame her for finding the draw of Danbury Ridge so irresistible. I wanted to know more, and finally, this week, I was able to visit her at the winery.

Since joining two years ago, she has seen the winery, office and hospitality reception grow up along with the vines. The first vines were planted in 2014 in the Octagon Block vineyard, with subsequent plantings following and new vineyards being established next door in the Polo Field and Sleipnir plots. The team are learning about how the sites behave all the time, taking a data-driven approach. It was initial tests showed that the plots of land would be ideal for quality viticulture, and now they are carrying out soil analysis reports to delve deeper into each site’s make-up and how that variation causes differences of fruit expression in their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

No expense has been spared in the winery, it was kitted out like a wine geek’s dreamscape; and by having access to top-grade equipment, Danbury Ridge can have full control over the winemaking process and be exacting in their winemaking practices. I was particularly excited to see a gyropalette up close and personal, but that might just be me!

And do you know, I wasn’t even a little bit jealous of the view from Kim’s office down onto the gorgeous ageing cellar. Okay, maybe I was a bit, but can you blame me? Several vintages and projects are still resting in barrel there and I, for one, can’t wait to see and taste what comes next!