No more visitors at Kenton – despite what it says on their website!
On a lovely sunny day in Exeter, my friend Chrissie & I decided to pop over to Kenton vineyard. We were surprised to find only one car in the car park and the tasting room and terrace looking neglected. The vines looked in super condition, though. All a bit confusing until we bumped into the owner, Matthew Bernstein. He said that they haven’t been open to the public for the last couple of years and blamed out of date books for causing quite a few wasted calls and visits. As a small family business, they had just found there weren’t enough hours in the day to look after around 7.5 acres of vines and do that as well, although he might not be averse to laying on a booked tour with a reasonable number of people.
They make the wine and now sell it all to a distributor and to a couple of local places. We had a nice chat and he said that he was pleased with the progress of the vines so far this year, albeit that they were a bit behind where they would normally be, so with some luck and sunshine, he’ll be hoping for a good crop.
We left, pleased to have seen the vineyard, but a bit sad that such a nice facility as the wine shop and terrace were not being used at all and looking a bit sorry for themselves. It was crying out to be used for events, tastings or even another business – surely there’s a deal to be done with renting the space to some enterprising local?
I hadn’t checked their own website first – sometimes if I’m not making a long journey, I like to just make my own first impressions, but on this occasion I did feel a bit silly… Right up until about 5 minutes ago when I did check and read all how visitors are “warmly” invited and how “Our still wines are available for tasting free of charge. Wine tastings take place inside our wine shop with panoramic views of the vineyard.” If I’d read that before we went, I’d really have been irritated. Surely the beauty of the web is that you can keep it up to date?! This isn’t the first time this has happened – when Wickham went into receivership their website also indicated all was open and we drove quite a long way only to be disappointed. This really doesn’t do the individual vineyards or English winemaking in general any favours at all.
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