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An Afternoon at Dalwood Vineyard

We visit as many vineyards as we can, but it’s hard to keep up with them all so sometimes we like to share other people’s stories. A big thank you to Tara of Tara’s Busy Kitchen for letting us share her thoughts on Dalwood Vineyard on the Devon / Dorset Border…

Who would have thought that a late night drunken joke amongst the local pub skittles team would have turned into reality? The idea was hatched one night when someone mentioned “Did you know the Romans grew vines on Danes Hill?”, referring to the land above the village. This sparked something within the team and made them decide they would give growing vines a go for themselves.

Thank goodness they did because last week I spent a wonderful afternoon up in the vineyard with Mike Huskins, one of the founding fathers, learning about the vines, the grape varieties and of course tasting the recent vintages. The weather was outstanding which created the most perfect backdrop for my vineyard tour. I could have been in France or Italy but instead I was in a little village halfway between Honiton and Axminster!

Mike talked me through the grape varieties and how the team behind the idea came to their decisions. He described how they had visited vineyards and had done numerous tastings to help with their choices. In 2009 the first vines were planted – all Seyval Blanc to start and then the following year more vines were added in the form of Pinot Noir, Madeleine Angevine and Solaris. They now have around 3000 vines with the hope to add more next year.

After about 6 or 7 years of hard work and many man hours in and around their day jobs, the team had their first wine. They had no idea what to expect but once opened they knew that they were onto a winner. That year their sparkling wine won bronze at Decanter Magazine’s World Wine Awards. How amazing is that? The wine has gone from strength to strength since then with their latest vintage Madeleine Angevine 2016 quoted by Duncan Lay of Seriously Good Wines in Lyme Regis as “one of the best English wines he has ever drunk”. High praise indeed. I was lucky enough to try the wine and have to agree. In fact I came home with three bottles!

Tara originally visited Dalwood in June 2017 and recently went back to join in harvest:

Tara joins in harvest at Dalwood Vineyard

I was there to help with the Seyval Blanc grape harvest. An early start meant that most of the work was done in time for a quick lunch at The Tuckers Arms before heading back to Exeter to teach. I can’t tell you how glad I was to get to the pub. Not because I hadn’t had immense fun but I was completely drenched. Four layers of clothing on and I was soaked to the skin. The heavens had opened about an hour or so into the harvest and it didn’t stop! I kept smiling regardless and I can’t wait to help again next year.

We can certainly relate to smiling through a rainy harvest! See more about joining in harvest  and vineyards where you can get involved in our recent blog posts.

If that’s got you interested, our Directory lets you find vineyards that welcome volunteers and our Vineyard Map will help you to find your local vineyard.

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