Awesome vineyards to visit: a turn around the best of the West
English wine is totally having a moment, and as it's English Wine Week what better way to support than by quaffing some of our West Country faves.
What? This Muddy Wilts favourite is a boutique family-run vineyard with 10 acres of French vines. They produce exquisite white fizz, with a sparkling rosé due out this summer. Book up for one of their taste tours, either self-guided or with enthusiastic brothers Nat and Toby.
Where? Only at top family day-out destination, Cholderton Charlie’s Rare Breed Farm. – double-whammy. It’s a beautiful spot north of Salisbury, with peacocks wandering and animals a-plenty. They also do wedding and events here – outside or in their massive barn.
How do I try? Buy a bottle on line, from their farm shop or book a tasting tour. You won’t regret it. Their tastings also showcase some still whites from other quality Wiltshire producers a’Becketts of Devizes, Whitehall of Lacock and Maud Heath of Calne. They’re a collaborative lot, these Wiltshire winemakers, and are planning a Wiltshire Wine Trail this summer.
Stand out sip? The Classic Cuvée 2015 – beats most champagnes in our view.
But I’m thirsty and nowhere near a vineyard!
More and more places stock English wines these days. The Bunch of Grapes in Bradford on avon is, unusually, always happy to open a bottle for a glass of English fizz. It may not be from Wiltshire (you can’t win ’em all), but at the Grapes you know it’ll be top quality. Fancy something to take home? Cru Wines, also in Bradford, always has a tempting, and unusual, selection. Right now they have the English Old Hall rosé, perfect for summer with its notes of strawberries & cream.
What? One of the oldest vineyards in Devon, multi award-winning Sharpham produces 13 wines, including red, white and rose, as well as sparkling (made champers-style) from grapes including Sauvignon, Bacchus, Pinot and Dornfelder.
Where? A stunning location – 10 acres of south-facing slope edging the inky-green waters of the River Dart. Tours are particularly popular and both the shop and vineyard are now open for a self-guided mooch.
How do I try? Grab a bottle or two online here; Waitrose sell their Estate Collection, and it appears on many a good wine list around the county’s best restaurants and hotels.
Stand out sip Their Sparkling Pink 2016 has just bagged an award last year and being a seasoned fizz fan I can definitely recommend their delicious Sharpham Sparkling Reserve.
What? Run by the fabulous Jo and Matt who call themselves accidental vintners as they inherited 3000 vines when they opened their opened their bijou events and wedding venue back in 2018. They currently produce produce around 1000 bottles of their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé is an elegant blend of (Pinot Noir and Regent grapes) wine annually, with ambitions to reach 4000 a year.
Where? On the Eastern slopes of Haldon Hill and the River Exe estuary in rolling Devon fields at Mamhead, near Exeter.
How do I try? Sign up for one of their three Wine Tasting Experiences, held in groups of 10+ and perfect for people who are new to wine tasting and just want to have a bit of fun sipping and learning a bit about the grape.
Stand out sip It has to be their Sauvignon Blanc which snaffled an award from the South West Vineyard Association for its very first vintage in 2016 (and was happily quaffed at the last Muddy Devon Awards).
What? A 10-acre vineyard owned by ex-Londoners Ben and Caroline Goulden (she is former head of PR for Sky Atlantic). Planted with Champagne clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to create traditional method sparkling wines, plus Bacchus and Siegrebbe easy-drinking white wines. They recently built a bespoke tasting barn and there are exciting plans for sit-down feasts and wellness weekends in the pipeline. You can also stay in one three gorgeous thatched cottages.
Where? Six miles to the south west of Exeter on the picturesque edge of the River Teign at Bridford.
How do I try? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or check out their other stockists here.
Stand out sip Their award-winning Swanaford Classic Cuvée 2016, a zesty apple and citrus number.
What? 10,000 vines of Germanic wines, including Dornfelder and Bacchus, and 8 wines named for the nearby ruinous summer palace of the Bishop of Exeter. Now under new ownership since founder Kevin Daw sold it a few years ago but he still does tours. You can also host a bash here or staycay in one of their six family-friendly lodges.
Where? The village of Bishopsteignton, perched on a dizzyingly steep south-facing slope above the Teign Estuary.
How do I try? Buy a case of 6 direct from the vineyard, red, white, rose or sparkling or if you want to dip your toe, buy a mixed or 50/50 box.
Stand out sip Unusually among Devon vineyards, they produce three robust red wines.