As a Westcountry restaurateur of many years I have always been interested in offering English wines on my wine list.
Way back in 1977 I was running a tiny hostelry in Plymouth when I had the opportunity to purchase some rather unique samples of English wine, most I had never heard of or even tasted! I reckoned around 80% were barely drinkable: lacking fruit definition, balance or charm.
A Shining Beacon
However, one sample shone. The best wine of the bunch was a Westcountry wine, namely Pilton Manor, a Somerset-based blend of European grapes creating a fruit-driven spicy wine of note.
Fast forward to 1981
In 1981 grapes were first planted on the west bank of the River Dart at the Sharpham Estate nr Totnes. Sharpham, the then fledgling wine co waited for three years to make their first white wine. Those young grapes have since matured creating Dart Valley Reserve, a dry white wine of distinction. They have thrived over the past 40 years, producing some of the UK’s most innovative and distinctive wines (with styles and prices for all markets).
These wines have been awarded numerous medals and awards in local and national competitions, most recently winning Silver in the 2022 WineGB Awards.
In 2008 an opportunity arose to plant more grapes, this time across the River Dart close to Stoke Gabriel. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir became the main quarry allowing them to go full-steam ahead with quality Sparkling Wine production. Pinot Gris was also planted offering the wine team plenty to play with. Their portfolio grew to a point where the winery was creaking at the seams! Something had to give. So around 2018 when the opportunity came to create a new winery and visitors centre near to their newer vineyards they seized the chance.
Sandridge Barton, a new Era
In no time at all they built a new sustainable winery capable of producing up to three times more wines than their original site. With two vintages under their belt, a brand new visitors centre, restaurant and accommodation Sharpham has now changed its name to Sandridge Barton the home of Sharpham Wines.
At a recent ‘soft opening’ I attended we were treated to samples of Dart Valley Reserve, Sparkling Blanc, Pinot Gris Wild Ferment, and Pinot Noir. All showed excellently proving the relocation a resounding success. This perfect move will enable consistent award-winning wines to be crafted amongst the newly-restored ancient farmhouse buildings being brought right up-to-date. Discover the full range of Sharpham Wines.
Visits, tasting, vineyard safaris and excellent restaurant facilities are all available.
Originally featured in the Western Morning News 28/05/2022