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Huxbear Vineyard, Sustainable Viticulture in Devon

Stephen Barrett Stephen Barrett
6 minute read

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Huxbear Vineyard, South Devon

With the recent proliferation of vineyards and wineries in the UK it has become rather difficult for me to fit them all in! But, I will go the extra mile to taste quality wines and to guide you to best the UK has to offer. Huxbear Vineyard in the Teign Valley nr Chudleigh, South Devon, is one such vineyard and winery.

I recently hosted a unique South Devon Wine Tasting in which the standout wine was their Classic Sparkling Cuvée

Eager to learn more I went off in search of this elusive Devon winery. Just off the A38, Huxbear vineyard is tucked into a winding valley around 5 miles from Newton Abbot.

Set in lush, gently sloping hills I noted that the undulating ground allows the valley wind to blow directly through the vines helping to keep them healthy.

Ben and Lucy Hulland who own and run the business describe themselves as makers of boutique English wine, which neatly sums up their approach to wine making.

They don’t aspire to producing large volumes (the 16 acre vineyard currently produces around 15 thousand bottles per year). As Lucy explained, it’s all about producing unique wines that they can be proud of.

“Being an English winemaker has many advantages if you choose to work with nature rather than against it. Most of the world’s wine is produced in different conditions to those we enjoy here, which means we can create something truly unique and distinctive.

“Our growing conditions are closer to Champagne and the Loire than the more arid conditions that produce robust big reds, for example. The climate and soil here bring out the delicacy and subtlety that a lot of discerning wine buyers are looking for.”

Distinctively Devon Wine

Their 16,500 vines, planted in 2007, are maturing nicely. The wines have a sense of place, something distinctly Devonian, which you can taste.

Establishing a distinctive ‘place of its own’ in the world is something that English wine is starting to achieve. This could be down to the maturing of the vines or the growing confidence of producers like Lucy and Ben, who firmly believe that they don’t have to mimic popular wine styles from elsewhere to be successful.

“If you take our signature Classic Sparkling as an example, we use the Champagne method because it creates reliable and great tasting wines, but we’re not trying to create an English version of Champagne. We control the blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier very carefully and leave it to age on the lees for no more than 24 months. We also avoid oak ageing to keep the wine fresh and distinctively Devonian.”

Regionality is something that Lucy identifies as potentially the next big step in English wine production.

“Many of our vines are now over 10 years old. This maturity, along with the changing climate, have altered the characteristics of our wines significantly, producing more prominent and rounded fruit notes. It’s entirely logical that wines produced here will be increasingly different from those produced in the chalky soils and drier climate of the South East. There’s every reason to think that wines from South West England will continue to develop their own identity.”

Following a Dream

It’s great to hear English wine producers talking with such passion and self-confidence, particularly in the case of Lucy and Ben who started Huxbear vineyard from scratch following an idea inspired by a (possibly over-enthusiastic) wine tasting session. They sold up everything and moved to Brighton so that Ben could study winemaking at Plumpton College.

After qualifying, the search was on for a suitable site for a vineyard. This became available in 2007 at Huxbear Farm near Chudleigh in Devon. The gently sloping site was mostly South East facing, which offers ideal protection from late frosts. They also have some South West facing slopes that are reserved mainly for German grape varieties such as Schonberger and Siegerrebe.

When they started to plant vines Ben and Lucy were keen to retain the name of the farm. Looking up at the night sky they noticed that the Great Bear constellation was directly over the vineyard. This ties neatly with the name Huxbear. They like to think of their precious vines being under the watchful protection of the Great Bear. Bears are a common theme in their naming, labelling and marketing. That’s all part of fashioning something ‘distinctively Devon.’

Sustainable English Wine

Creating a vineyard from scratch is a Herculean effort, particularly when the first 22 months are spent living in a touring caravan. Even today, the vineyard is entirely off-grid with rain-water harvesting, compost toilets, and power produced primarily from renewable sources.

That passion, dedication and single-mindedness comes through in every bottle that leaves Huxbear Vineyard and every sip of the wine.

The Wines

Devon Sparkling Wine

The biggest production is the Huxbear Classic Sparkling 2018. This wine intrigued me as its elegant mature style soared to great heights as a distinctive wine of quality.

Huxbear Classic Sparkling 2018, Devon

Huxbear Classic Sparkling 2018, Devon


As a sparkling wine producing nation, we are bringing our "A" game right now, often beating Champagne in competition and blind tastings. In places, the...… read more

Made exclusively with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The depth of flavour the wine offers creates a seriously developed sipper. With a minimum of 24 months on its lees in the cellar the wines encompasses a richly textured fizz of note!

Devon Still Wine

Huxbear Vineyard still wines offer the wine hunter something a little left-field. Their flagship white Dancing Bear Chardonnay is enhanced with a three-month internment in American oak adding a layer of complexity to a thoroughly modern fruit-driven Devon Wine – maybe try it with Spicy Risotto! 

Huxbear "The Dancing Bear" Chardonnay 2020, Devon

Huxbear "The Dancing Bear" Chardonnay 2020, Devon


It's been suggested that the changing climate will make South Devon the new Burgundy. As the temperature warms, classic Burgundian grapes such as Chardonnay are...… read more

Their funky, unfiltered Orange Wine is made by allowing the must or juice to contact the grape skins. This has created a white wine with defined orange hues sporting an oxidised style with a whiff of Fino Sherry and tasty tannins with a slightly ‘sour’ note to the palate. This would be a great match with washed rind or mature English Cheeses! 

Huxbear Orange Bear 2021, Devon

Huxbear Orange Bear 2021, Devon


Orange wine has seen a boost in popularity over the past few years. While there isn’t a huge number of English winemakers trying their hand...… read more

Huxbear Vineyard is on a mission to produce quality. Minimal intervention is practiced here with a nod to nature offering 21st century wines suitable for vegan imbibers.

Buy Huxbear Vineyard wines

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