On the grapevine

With its temperate climate and sheltered, south facing slopes, Devon has the ideal conditions for growing grapes, and wine production in the region is flourishing.

ost Devon wine producers are small-scale operations with grapes being hand picked and crafted to produce a range of wines –white, sparkling, rosés and the occasional red. Grape varieties that suit the conditions include Bacchus, Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner, Auxerrios and Pinot Gris for the whites, with Regent, Rondo, Dunkelfelder and Pinot Noir for the reds.

With the Sharpham Estate just a few miles away from Hillfield Village, producing exceptionally fine wines, we strongly recommend our guests find time for a visit – not only for the wines, but for the gorgeous walks, tasty cheeses and the new Anchorstone Café. However, for those wishing to extend their knowledge of Devon wines here are a few suggestions of vineyards to visit nearby and a little further afield.

 

Pebblebed Vineyards

Pebblebed started in 1999 when 11 families got together to plant half an acre of vines just to the South of Exeter. Now Geoff Bowen and his wife Anna, with the help of the local community, tend 20 acres of vineyards. Up to 50,000 bottles of sparkling and still wines are now produced (with minimum use of additives) at their modern winery and Pebblebed sparkling is rated among the best in England. You can visit the vineyard and winery at Clyst St George for guided tours and expert tastings from May to September or you can volunteer to help with the grape harvest in late September and October – there were more than 500 last year.

One to try: Pebblebed Sparkling White A delicate, lively wine with crisp apple flavours.

Eastcott Vineyard

This small family-run working vineyard and winery lies in a sheltered vale in Northlew, west Devon. Owners Richard and Hilary Waller take care of all the vine growing and winery work themselves producing high quality sparkling and still wines from their six acre site at Eastcott Vineyard. Wine is sold direct from the cellar door and everyone who comes to buy wine is taken into the winery. Richard and Hilary also run popular and informative guided tours and tutored tastings.

One to try: Eastcott Two Moors Rosé 2014. Bright strawberry in colour with redcurrant and cranberry flavours and green apple notes. And it’s sold by M&S!

Old Walls

There was evidence of a vineyard on the site in Bishopsteignton more than 2000 years ago when the Romans took advantage of the south facing slopes and well-drained soil. The Dawes family, who have farmed the surrounding land for over 90 years, grow Reichensteiner, Bacchus, Rondo, Dunkelfelder, Pinot Noir and Regent grape varieties in their eight-acre Old Walls vineyard and produce white, red, rosé and sparkling wines.

One to try: Palace Red – made from a blend of Regent, Rondo and Dunkenfleder, a palatable, light and dry deep red wine with blackberry overtones.

Sharpham Estate

Using grapes from vines grown on sheltered slopes above the River Dart, two miles downstream from Totnes, Sharpham has been producing outstanding wines for more than 25 years using new world techniques. There are guided treks around the 10 acres of vineyards as well as regular tastings to enjoy. Easily reached by boat from Dartmouth, or there’s a picturesque two-mile walk to Sharpham from Totnes.

One to try: Sharpham Barrel Fermented 2013.One of the few English wines to be fermented in oak barrels. It has a bright, zesty palate with spice and sweet gooseberry flavours and a subtle oak finish.

Sam Halpin

bournemouth, uk