I'm certainly no expert on wine and (despite numerous childhood holidays in France) I've never been to a winetasting event or vineyard until last weekend. But my first experience definitely left me with a thirst for more.
Best of all, it turns out I didn't even need to cross the channel to sample great wines at their source. Denbies Wine Estate, the UK's largest vineyard, is just a short train journey away from London Waterloo or Paddington, alighting at Dorking or Box Hill.
As part of a birthday celebration, we'd booked in for a winery tour. This kicked off with a film (in a 360 degree cinema) about the estate and its history, followed by a tour of the wine-making rooms, ending in the basement where we sampled three different wines.
All this was well enough, but what really made value for money was our tour guide, a rather dour woman with a delightfully dry sense of humour, who was both passionate and highly knowledgeable about wine and winemaking.
Tour completed, we hit the gift shop to buy some Denbies wine, which really is very good. There are lots of other locally produced goods on offer, as well as a separate kitchen garden farm shop, two restaurants and a gallery showcasing local artists.
The vineyard itself is picturesque, in the shelter of the lush green slopes of the North Downs. You can take a train ride tour around the 265 acres of vines, or simply walk - there are seven miles of footpaths, merging into the North Downs Way.
In short, a grand day out was had by all, and I'd definitely go back, perhaps for one of the special events the winery runs throughout the year. English Wine Week starts 28 May, followed by a weekend of Father's Day celebrations, and a summer packed with barbecues, fairs, cheesemaking, tea dances and even a murder mystery night.