On the vineyard trail

PUBLISHED: 08:56 16 September 2014 | UPDATED: 08:56 16 September 2014

Smith and Evans

Smith and Evans


Charlotte Skidmore checks out some of Somerset’s finest wine producers

The vineyard: Smith and Evans, Higher Plot.

How it all began: Guy Smith spent the whole of his working life travelling the world as a wine trader and together with his wife Laur,a who worked in film editing, he spent four years searching for the perfect site to produce the best quality sparkling wine from the Champagne varietals Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier.

The story now: They found their spot at Higher Plot Fam where the soil is very similar to that at some of the world’s greatest vineyards.

Their wins is stocked in restaurants Augustus in Taunton, The Devonshire Arms in Long Sutton, as well as PM Wine Cellars run by ex Marco Pierre White sommelier Philippe Messy.

Signature wine: First release 2010 sparkling wine.

The vineyard: Oatley Vineyard, Cannington.

How it all began: Owners, Iain and Jane Awty planted the vineyard in 1986 and continue to tend their 28-year-old vines, growing in mineral-rich, Quantock soil, lovingly.

The story now: They specialise in single-vineyard fully-dry white wines that reflect the year, the “terroir” and their two vine varieties, Madeleine Angevine and Kernling, a Riesling-cross.

The vineyard is very rural and rich in wildlife. No shop, just sales of their own wines from a tent outside the farmhouse. You can expect a warm welcome and a personally-guided tasting and vineyard visit free of charge from the owners.

Signature wine: Jane’s 2013, a dry, fresh, Sauvignon-style white.

The vineyard: Secret Valley Vineyard, Cobbs Cross Farm, Bridgwater.

How it all began: Secret Valley Vineyard was planted in 2008 and is about 4.5 acres in size and grows the Rondo, Rechensteiner, Pinot Noir, Orion and Solaris grapes. The first harvest was in 2010 and we made a red, white and rose wine. In 2011 it produced a red, dry white, medium white, rose and sparkling wine.

The story now: The customers can enjoy a free wine tasting and then buy some wine. The wine is also available to buy from the shop Winesolution which is based at Willowbrook Garden Centre, West Buckland, Wellington. Wine is sold to glamping customers and visitors can also go on a vineyard and farm tour.

Signature wine: A sparkling white.

The vineyard: Sutton Ridge Vineyard, Redhill.

How it all began: Luke got the taste for English wine while studying at Reading University. At a beer festival, rather than tasting real ales he came across a selection of English wines and tasted those instead! His growing interest in English wines led to the idea of diversifying the family farm.

After graduating from The University of Reading with a first class honours degree in Building Surveying, Luke joined chartered surveyors David James and Partners. He spent his holidays visiting English vineyards and studying viticulture at Plumpton College, the only college in the UK offering viticulture training. Combining his surveying skills with what he learnt at Plumpton, Luke produced and presented a professional vineyard proposal to his parents who own Sutton Farm. The 1,750 vines were all hand planted in spring 2011 on the 1 hectare site by Luke Ford and more than 30 family and friends. This included four generations of the family.

The story now: Two and a half years after the vines were planted the vineyard produced its first bumper crop. Luke now runs the vineyard with help from his family and fiancé Hannah. Next year they will produce the first commercial crop, which will be sold locally and online.

Signature wine: Luke hopes the sparkling wine that they aim to release late next year will become the signature wine and will be called Family Reserve.

The vineyard: Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard, Redhill.

How it all began: Aldwick Court Farm has been in the Watts family for five generations. Many changes have occurred at the farm including diversification into the planting of two vineyards in 2008 and 2010, then the addition of a function room in 2013. In 2011, Sandy Luck, youngest sister of Chris, inherited the vineyards and set out on a huge learning curve with the aim to produce quality still and sparkling wine.

The story now: In 2013 the vineyard produced rose and white wine, of which Sandy is very proud. This can now be bought from the farm’s cellar door and at local outlets.

Signature wine: Sparkling blush.

The vineyard: Dunleavy Vineyards, Wrington.

How it all began: Dunleavy was set up by Ingrid Bates and Stephen Dunleavy in 2008. The vineyard was planted near Wrington in North Somerset but the first harvest was delayed slightly because Ingrid had two children in the subsequent couple of years after planting.

The story now: They’re now at the stage where they’ve just released their second vintage - a 2013 Pinot noir rose. The first release, also a Pinot noir rose, sold out in just three days.

The second Dunleavy release has proved to be just as popular as the first and recently won the Best Local Win’ award at the Bristol Good Food Awards. Ingrid manages the vineyard and Stephen runs his own television production company, Humble Bee Films.

Dunleavy aims to produce around 5,000 bottles a year in the future and hopes to make a sparkling wine at some point as well.

Wines are sold at the Grape and Grind in Bristol, The Wine Shop, Winscombe and

Lye Cross Farm Shop.

Signature wine: Pinot noir rose.

The vineyard: Mumfords Vineyard, Bannerdown, Bath.

How it all began: Mumfords Vineyard, with its winery, is a family business run by Tony and Margaret Cox. ‘Mumfords’ is the old field name of the site recorded in the parish archives, with various spellings, since the 17th century.

The story now: The three varieties of grape grown, Madeleine Angevine, Reichensteiner and Triomphe, were selected for their flavour and ability to ripen their fruit in our cool climate. From these are made four wines: one dry white, a medium dry white, an off-dry rose and a red wine

The Madeleine Angevine has won Gold at the West Country Food Awards.

Wine can be bought from the shop on site, or there is also a postal delivery service.

Signature wine: Medium dry English regional wine.

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