About Us

THE STORY OF GREYFRIARS

The Story of Greyfriars

Welcome to Greyfriars. Greyfriars was originally planted in 1989 and has been producing great grapes and wines for over 20 years. We took over in late 2010 with the aim of expanding the vineyard dramatically, producing stunning English sparkling wine and building a state of the art winery, cellar and tasting room. We are well on the way to that goal.

We have planted over 40 acres of new vines, predominantly the three classical Champagne grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This will enable us to create a small range of spectacular English sparkling wines reflecting the unique local soil conditions, climate and heritage of the Surrey North Downs. The Downs in southern England are blessed with similar geological and soil conditions to the Champagne region in France. At Greyfriars we have a clay/loam topsoil over several hundred feet of wonderful free draining Cretaceous chalk. The chalk was originally deposited over a hundred million years ago when this entire area was submerged under a tropical sea. The highest part of the estate offers splendid views towards the South Downs and east towards Guildford and beyond.

We are now in November 2014 having released our 2011 Rosé Reserve to great acclaim and winning 3 awards in the process, the first wine made entirely by our own fair hands. We released two more vintages in 2014, the 2012 Sparkling Rosé and the 2011 Blanc de Blancs with a further two Still Wines, a Pinot Noir and a Sauvignon Blancs as well as  Sparkling Sauvignon to come in the New Year. By the end of the decade we will be producing 100,000 bottles a year .

Come and see us and let us tell you our story, taste our wines and see how we as a family vineyard do things a little differently!

TEAM GREYFRIARS

Team Greyfriars

Michael Wagstaff – Owner / Winemaker

mike-e1370542269244-157x199Mike spent the first 26 years of his career in the oil and gas industry and in the City – not the most obvious qualifications for running a vineyard making sparkling wine in Surrey.

Prior to acquiring Greyfriars in 2010, I spent the previous 11 years as part of the team at Venture Production, an Aberdeen based independent oil and gas production company first as Finance Director and subsequently as Chief Executive. Over this period we built Venture from scratch into the largest UK independent operating in the North Sea with a market value of £1.5 billion. After Venture was acquired in late 2009, I had the time and flexibility to think about ‘What next…….?’ Owning a vineyard had been a long held secret dream of my wife and I. We were attracted to Greyfriars from a geological perspective recognizing the similarities of the geology (and climate) of the North and South Downs to the Champagne region.

Our ambition is to expand Greyfriars from ‘hobby’ scale today to become a small commercial vineyard producing exciting high quality sparkling wine which reflects the unique characteristics of this fantastic location.

IMG_1697Hilary Wagstaff – Owner / Marketing

Mike and I met over 30 years ago at Oxford. We have had many dreams together but to own and run a vineyard has been a longstanding one. Finally the dream came true. I’ve been a natural scientist, a solicitor and a teacher as well as a mother to two beautiful children. Now I make and sell wine. And we live a mile and a half from the vineyard in a delightful village. It doesn’t get much better than this!

 

 

David Line – Vineyard Manager

IMG_5410David spent the first 12 years of his career touring the globe in his own successful rock band, releasing six albums and numerous singles along the way. On the road he also found time to start developing a healthy interest in wine, especially Champagne.

Four years prior to managing Greyfriars David managed an award winning bar in Clapham, South London. Having studied viticulture at Plumpton college and spent a few months working alongside the previous owners here at Greyfriars as well as at vineyards in Germany David feels he is ready to take on the world of vines.

When Mike bought the Vineyard and offered me a job I knew it was an opportunity too good to be missed and the world of wine making appeals greatly to my creative side. The idea of a family run business working alongside people you can trust with both of us having the same goal in mind, as well having quite a different set of skills to bring to the table, is deeply rewarding and tremendously exciting. I am enthused with the knowledge that Mike and I are going to do things a little different from the norm and we are planning some unique experiments with our wine making with the sole aim of making original, high quality and (hopefully) award winning English Sparkling wines!”.

IMG_20150628_142926990Rick Nicholls – Winemaker

Rick joined Greyfriars in October 2011, jumping into the deep end of a 90 tonne harvest. Prior to joining Team G, Rick has worked at vineyards in the south of France, Cornwall, Suffolk and Hampshire, after an initial year-long apprenticeship in the Mosel Valley.

Rick mainly works in the winery, carefully nurturing each wine into a future award winner! This is all done under the watchful guidance of owner Mike and the Great Lord Hans. On occasion David, vineyard manger will drag Rick into the fields. It is worth noting that Rick is the only team member to hold a certificate in working in very very confined spaces!

Outside of work, Rick enjoys sports – particularly endurance running (much to the bewilderment of the rest of the team!) Rick’s greatest sporting achievement to date is running the London 2 Brighton Challenge (62 miles/ 100km), finishing 28th

hannyHans Schleifer – Vineyard / Winery consultant and Winemaker

Hans Schleifer has 40 years experience starting from when he earned his degree from the prestigious Weinberg University in Germany. Following this Hans managed Vineyards in both Germany and England.

Hans has been the Production Manager for the Denbies Wine Estate and Wine Maker/Advisor for many successful and existing vineyards including Greyfriars.

Hans joined us back in 2010 and quickly became part of the family and is an invaluable member of the team. He is a constant inspiration and an overflowing fountain of knowledge on just about any topic you can imagine but more importantly he keeps David away from crashing the tractor!

David Hlavac – Vineyard Assistant Manager

IMG_5019 - Version 2David  joined Greyfriars back in January 2014. Initially he only intended to work one day a week and over a year later he is now David’s right hand man, he is a fully qualified paid up member of the Spray team and can handle himself on all the tractors and various machines that are attached to them.

David hails from the Czech Republic and worked as part of a team in the forestry commission in his own country. It would be hard to find a person with a stronger work ethic than David Hlavac and in just over a year he has become an invaluable member of Team Greyfriars and is in the process of working towards managing one of the larger sites here at Greyfriars.

 

 

FUTURE AND HISTORY

The Future

Over the next few years we are planning to expand the vineyard by planting an additional 20 acres of the three classic Champagne grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This will be followed by a major redevelopment of the existing winery to accommodate the resulting increased production levels. In addition, we are seeking to take advantage of the most modern grape growing and wine making technology and are planning some exciting trials and experiments in both the vineyard and the winery over the next few years. Our aim is not just to produce a Champagne ‘copy’ but rather to create a small range of great sparkling wines which reflects the unique geology, soil conditions, climate and heritage of the wonderful landscape of the Surrey North Downs.

 

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History

The current Greyfriars vineyard was originally planted in 1989. After several years of experimentation the one and a half acre plot was planted with predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties. In the late eighties Greyfriars was one of the first vineyards in England to plant these traditional Champagne grape varieties. After a number of years of producing both still and sparkling wines, Greyfriars has most recently focused on making high quality sparkling wines. Our sparkling wines are made using the ‘traditional method’ – a sparkling wine making technique which utilises a secondary fermentation and subsequent ageing in the bottle in the cellar for at least three years before it is ready to drink. This requires a lot more hard work and patience than producing still wines!

 

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AWARDS

AWARDS

pinot-gris-2014-label 2014 Pinot Gris

2015 English and Welsh Wine Producers Awards, Bronze Medal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rose-reserve-2013-label2013 Rosé Reserve

2015 English and Welsh Wine Producers Awards, Bronze Medal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rose-reserve-2012-medals-label

2011 Rosé Reserve

The 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards. Bronze Medal

The 2014 English Sommelier Wine Awards. Silver Medal

The 2014 IWSC awards. Bronze medal

 

 

 

 

 

2011 Blanc de Blancs

The 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards. Bronze Medal

The 2014 English Sommelier Wine Awards. Bronze Medal

The 2014 IWSC awards. Silver Medal – Outstanding