Friday, 20 February 2015

3 of Devon's best vineyards to visit

English wines have been growing in popularity for a number of years now, and many of them are produced in the agriculturally-diverse county of Devon.

There are vineyards and wineries scattered across the region, and some of them have been winning awards for their excellent tipples. You can explore them yourself, or take a guided tour and find out how the wine is produced from grape to glass.

Either way, a visit to one of Devon's beautiful vineyards is not to be missed, especially if you're a wine connoisseur who can't wait to sample what the county has to offer.

1. Sharpham Vineyard
Situated near Totnes, this beautiful vineyard lies within 500 acres of farmland owned by the Sharpham Trust and unpasteurised cheeses are also produced here, so you can enjoy a nibble with your wine tasting.

Sharpham Vineyard (pictured above) offers a variety of tours - from Trek and Taste, which allows visitors to explore at their leisure - to the Sharpham Experience, which is described as an "all-singing and dancing tour with bells on top" taking in the vineyard, the winery and Sharpham House.

Each tour includes wine and cheese tasting, and from Easter through to September you can also enjoy alfresco dining at the Vineyard Cafe, which serves a variety of fresh, organic locally-sourced food, as well as light refreshments.

2. Kenton Vineyard
This vineyard, planted in 2003, lies on the west side of the Exe Estuary and produces thousands of bottles of white, red, rose and sparkling wine every year.

There is a varied programme of events and activities taking place at Kenton throughout the year, including wine tastings, food and wine matching events and grape picking. You can also take a guided tour of the vines and the winery with a qualified viticulturist and winemaker.

Still wines can be sampled free of charge in the wine shop, or you can order by the glass and relax on the beautiful sun terrace overlooking the vineyard, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding Devon countryside.

3. Yearlstone Vineyard
This is Devon's oldest vineyard, started in 1976 by pioneering viticulturist Gillian Peakes who experimented with wine growing techniques for the English climate. Since then it has grown from 1.5 acres to more than 7.5 and includes a mature orchard from which cider is also produced. It can be found near the village of Bickleigh.

It also offers both self-guided and guided tours of the vineyard. The latter option includes an explanation of the history of English wine, the recent boom in its popularity and the principles of vine growing in the south west, as well as a visit to the winery to learn about the process of wine making and to sample the goods in a tutored tasting session.

There is a cafe on site called the Deli Shack, where a variety of seasonal dishes are available. Guests can dine inside or out on the terrace - where there are stunning views of the Exe valley towards Exeter and the sea - and the cafe also caters for hen groups and wedding after parties.

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