Manstree Vineyard – a Very Hidden Gem
Ever since enjoying a glass or two of Manstree’s Mayval Dry at Storm Fish Restaurant in Poole, I had made a mental note to pop in to Manstree Vineyard next time I was in the Exeter area. Visiting my friend Chrissie, who lives locally and is always a willing participant in wine adventures, we decided to track them down. Now, Chrissie has lived around there for quite a few years and as an event organiser who often has to source local food and wine for events, is pretty well up on these things. She’d come across Manstree at a Farmer’s Market but never been there.
We followed windy lanes with little signage and finally came across Boyce’s Nursery, Fruit Farm and Vineyard. Our first impression was of a vast array of stunning plants and hanging baskets, but there seemed to be too many of them left for this time of year – definitely a place to visit in spring another time.
Entering the farm shop, we could see the 4.5 acre vineyard down the hill. The wines were on display, but tastings are normally only available at weekends. There are self-guided tours in the summer, but no other talks or events – it seems that in the past, the numbers booked on tours had failed to materialise and it just turned out to be more hassle than it was worth. The wines are just sold directly from the vineyard and to the trade by Christopher Piper Wines, so the owners don’t deal directly with everyone who stocks their wine and were interested to hear about Storm – they may pop in there for a meal on their next Dorset holiday, which would be fun.
Much as we like to discover hidden gems, we felt this one was just a little too hidden and that a bit of good marketing would help them out and provide the locals in particular with access to great local wine and flowering plants.
Wine bought directly from the vineyard is, as is often the case, great value. The Mayval Dry (a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Seyval) is made at Camel Valley, which is a good indication of quality. Other wines are made at Yearlstone and I’m looking forward to trying the Madeleine Angevine Old Vine I bought.
So if you’re passing south of Exeter, near where the M5 becomes the A38 heading for South Devon and where you turn off for the A30 to Cornwall, do pop in and see them, it’s worth the effort.
Update February 2014: We hear that Yearlstone are no longer making wine on contract. Will update as soon as we can confirm who is now making these wines.
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