Bottoms up! 8 local wines to quaff in English Wine Week
English wine is officially having a moment - and what better time to try it than in English Wine Week? Top up your glass with a drop from one of these local Devon vineyards.
What? Lyme Bay Winery is a multi award-winning producer of white, rose and sparkling English wines (rather than a vineyard), as well as spirits, cider, mead, fruit wines and liqueurs.
Where? Muddy loves their rustic Cellar Door shop and winery based at Shute, in the bucolic Axe Valley near Axminster. It’s a fun trip out as you can sample pretty much anything at the cask-scented counter in miniature glass tumbler. And you will come away with stuffed bags shamefully jingling.
How do I try? Buy direct online and if you hotfoot it to our Reader Treats there’s a marvellooose chance to get your mitts on six of the best wines for FREE, including two bottles of their best-selling Shoreline 2018, two Pinot Noir Rose 2018 and Sparkling Brut Reserve.
Stand out sip Try their best-seller Shoreline, a crisp dry white. Their Pinot Noir won gold at the 2018 Independent English Wine Awards and their Sparkling Brut Rosé has been voted top in the prestigious People’s Choice for two years on the trot.
What? A small sparkling wine vineyard owned by Alison and Simon Routh with a winery and a bijou one-hectare vineyard which began with them energetically planting 150 vines by hand back in 2008.
Where? On the edge of the Brendon Hills near Tiverton in mid-Devon, on a south-facing slope of red Devonian soil just up the hill from the small village of Clayhanger.
How do I try? Purchase online direct from the vineyard, along with Wellhayes Fire brandy and their handmade brandy bombs and chocolate truffles. When lockdown ends I recommend their fascinating vineyard tour – which comes with a glass of two their fabulous bubbles and a home-made Devon cream tea – as Simon (above) is a very entertaining speaker and makes all the techy stuff really interesting.
Stand out sip Their Wellhayes Sparkling Wine is made champagne-style, over 3-4 years, using four traditional grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, plus a Reichensteiner for its reliability. A verrry quaffable alternative to the old champers.
What? Exeter’s Pebblebed started life as a half-acre community project 20 years back and has grown to 20 acres of vineyards and a modern winery, with 50,000 bottles of wine produced in a good year.
Where? At Ebford (which is organic) near Topsham and West Hill near Ottery St Mary. Normally you can do a tour of the vineyards and winery on Thursdays and Saturdays with wine-maker Alex Mills, or you can get hands-on and help with the harvest every September to mid-October..
How do I try? Buy online or when lockdown lifts, books at a table at their gorgeous Cellar in Topsham, where you can tuck into sharing boards and tapas and wine tastings. I’ve road-tested it (naturally) and give it a huuuuge Muddy thumbs up for a night out with the gals.
Stand out sip The still rose and both white and rose fizzes have won awards or buy the complete collection of all five wines (above) including both award-winning sparklings for a reduced price of £65.
What? A boutique vineyard of a few thousand vines known for its sparkling and white wines, owned and cared for by Rob Corbett. Every year grapes are picked by family and friends and (usually) are celebrated in their annual wine festival. And you can staycay on site in a rather lovely Grade II listed cottage.
Where? On the south-facing slopes of the family’s dairy farm in the Axe Valley just minutes the beaches at Lyme Regis, beautiful Beer and Seaton.
How do I try? Add to cart from their online wine shop.
Stand out sip Try the Castlewood NV (it’s the one Rob say he’d be happy to serve to royalty) and when you’re next eating out (soon please) at Mark Hix, The Pig Hotels or Mitch Tonks’ Rockfish, don’t miss the chance to try their specially curated Devon Minnow.
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 this spring and being a seasoned fizz fan I can definitely recommend their delicious Sharpham Sparkling Reserve.
What? Muddy’s much-loved local vineyard, 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, (currently on hold due to you-know-what) 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 we happily quaffed at last year’s 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? It makes sense to buy direct as they’re currently offering 10% off all orders of 6 bottles or more and free delivery within 15 miles of the vineyard. Email email@example.com. 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 couple of years ago but he still does tours (in normal times). When lockdown ends 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.
Thirsty for more, more, more? For the chance to WIN Lyme Bay Winery wine worth £329.82, check out this fabulous Reader Treat.