Wellhayes Vineyard, Clayhanger nr Tiverton
Park up and pop a cork! Treat yourself to a curated wine tour and sparkling cream tea among the vines at this bucolic vineyard on the edge of Exmoor.
An hour-long tour complete with sparkling wine and a cream tea, what’s not to love? Welhayes Vineyard is small at just one hectare (like 80% of UK vineyards) and owned by vintners Simon and Alison Routh. It’s just north of Tiverton, in bucolic fields and produces just one delicious tipple: Wellhayes Sparkling Wine. Simon will ever-so eloquently take you through the intricacies of making English sparkling wine from start to finish in under an unpretentious hour, then treat you to a glass or two, and a yummy cream tea.
Their delicious fizz is made champagne-style, using four grape varieties – 3 of them trad champagne grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) plus a Reichensteiner for its reliability and winey taste. Everything short of growing the grapes happens in the winery, from pressing, through to bottling, and the fiddly prolonged process of twisting the inverted bottle to make the yeast settle so it can be frozen and removed, leaving the delicious bubbles intact.
It takes 3 to 4 years to make it this way, hence the difference in price between Prosecco and Champagne, and worth every penny in my book. Book for a tour on Wednesday or Sunday, or join them for one of their monthly classical music recitals from spring to autumn (Alison was a professional musician so knows her stuff) delivered with home-grown wine, naturally.