As our harvest comes to a close in the coming days, we thought it would be a good time to reflect back over the past few weeks and to let you all know how it went!
After three unimaginably great years in a row, 2021 was always going to have a steep mountain to climb in terms of upstaging recent vintages, and typically things got off to a worrying start.
Spring this year was dry but very cold, and a lot of northern European wine making countries, including the UK, were hit by severe frosts just around bud burst in April. One small benefit of being right on the upper limits of where it's possible to successfully ripen wine grapes is that the yearly life cycle of our vines is a couple of weeks behind those in northern France, so perhaps we got off a bit lighter than our neighbours across the channel!
Even so, we were hit by a rare air frost that came in on the E - NE winds, damaging some of our vines before the buds burst. Fortunately this damage was limited thanks to our proximity to the sea and the warming influence of the River Dart, but still set us back about 3 -4 weeks as May remained cold.
Flowering in July took place in very hot and dry conditions so pollination was successful, and the rest of the growing season enjoyed above average temperatures and short sharp bursts of rainfall but nothing to really claw back the lack of spring we had so we prepared ourselves for later picking and lower yields.
Harvest officially commenced on 1st October, a couple of weeks later than usual, with Madeleine Angevine being the first variety to be picked and delivered to the winery. Although this year may not have seemed like a great summer, temperatures were still above average and this helped us to achieve some of the highest ever sugar levels recorded in our Madeleine Angevine.
Fortunately there wasn't a lot of disease present in the vineyard either and total yields hit about average, potentially enabling us to produce around 65,000 bottles this year.
Keep an eye out for our New Release 2021 which will be available both online and in our cellar door shop on Thursday 18th November. As our youngest and freshest wine, this much-anticipated release always offers a true insight into the current vintage - a taste of good things to come!
We've planted another vineyard!
On Wednesday 19th May, possibly the only day without rain in the whole month, we planted our new vineyard 'Stonyfield' which is across the road from our Sandridge Barton vineyard, and a 10 minute walk through the estate from our new winery at Lower Well Farm.
'Stonyfield' is a unique site as it boasts South Devon's only raised limestone bed, a key feature in some of the world's best wine regions such as Burgundy, St-Emilion and parts of the Southern Rhone for example. Limestone is a calcium-rich bedrock that is basically fosillised coral, so this little pocket of the South Hams was once a shallow tropical sea bed!
The site itself is 10 acres but we have only planted 8 acres under vine, leaving some space set aside for wild flower coverage. We have also plated Alder trees on the east side of the vineyard to act as both a windbreak and to draw away some water as Alder are notoriously thirsty trees. The aspect is the all-important south-facing slope overlooking the Dart Valley, with an elevation of 50 - 60 metres above sea level.
We managed to plant all 8000 vines in five hours, but of course waiting for a good crop will take a lot longer - it will be about three years until we can begin harvesting from these vines. We have planted Pinot Meunier, four different clones of Chardonnay and five different clones of Pinot Noir including Burgundian and Champagne clones.
New Wine Releases
Over the winter we have been busy nurturing our wines through the cold and getting some of them ready for bottling, and now, as spring sets in, we have some new arrivals of our own to introduce to you.
First up is our Summer Sparkling NV. This wine has a story behind it and we're referring to it as 'the lost wine!' When moving our winery from the Sharpham site to Sandridge Barton downriver, we 'rediscovered' this blend in one tucked away corner in an old out building we used for cellaring our sparkling wine. A blend of Pinot Noir and Dornfelder from the 2011 and 2012 vintages, and matured in the bottle on the lees (dead yeast sediment) for nearly 8 years! When tasting, we thought the wine still had great fruit character and lots of savoury yoghurt and bread notes with a good spritz and a fresh acidity. There isn't a huge amount of it and we don't anticipate it lasting that long, so we decided to name it the 'Summer Sparkling' as we think it is the perfect sparkling for a warm summer's day, and priced at £19.00 a bottle, it's a no-brainer!
Another fizz release is our Sparkling Blanc 2017. This is our classic blend made in the traditional method and this year the blend is 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, matured on the lees for 30 months before release. The Sparkling Blanc is classic and rich with aromas of stewed apple, lemon, toast and almond, and the palate shows more orchard fruits, baked bread and a creamy mousse and fresh lemon acidity.
Next we bring back an old classic, the Estate Selection 2020. This year all the fruit (100% Madeleine Angevine) came from our Sandridge Barton vineyard so we have named it the 'Sandridge Barton Estate Selection 2020' and what an incredible harvest it was for us. We destemmed and crushed all of the fruit, separated only the free-run juice (the first third of natural run-off before the pressing) and fermented it in stainless steel at a cool temperature to increase the aromatic profile. We left the wine on the lees in tank for five weeks to give the wine a little bit of texture and some salinty. As always, the Estate Selection is dry and delicate with lemon sherbert, elderflower and meadow aromas on the nose and fresh on the palate with a mouth-watering citrus acidity, perfect for drinking with seafood by the sea!
All wines are now available online and in our winery shop which re-opens its doors on Monday 29th March!
Update on tours and tastings 2021
Following the Government announcement on Monday 22nd February outlining the easing of lockdown restrictions, we are hoping to be able to resume our tours and tastings from April 12th. We are working on a plan to be able to open safely and host our guests outdoors as per Government advice, and will open our online calendar for bookings once we have got the necessary structures in place.
As outdoor space is limited and the spingtime weather is unpredictable, we will have to carefully manage our capacity to ensure a safe environment for guests and staff alike. For this reason, booking will be essential for all tours and tastings, both guided and self-guided.
The Cellar Door Kitchen, our onsite café, will re-open as soon on 12th April for both table service and takeaway. Head to our CAFÉ page for more information.
In the meantime, our shop will be open 10am - 5pm Monday to Friday until further notice. You can also make use of our click and collect service online.
Thanks for bearing with us, and we really look forward to welcoming you soon!
The Lastest at Sharpham
After an incredibly busy Christmas, it is time for us to start planning the 2021 season here at Sharpham. This year is a little bit different though as it will be our final year on the Sharpham estate, before we move down river to our new premises at our sister vineyard site at Sandridge Barton. Over the last 30 years we have welcomed thousands of visitors to taste our wine and cheese, learn about how it's made, and to simply enjoy the stunning views and setting of our vineyard on the banks of the river Dart.
Although there is a lot of change ahead, we urge you to come and see us in our final year here at Sharpham, whether you have been before or have always been meaning to visit but have never got around to it; this will be your last chance!
When you're here it will be business as usual. The vines are currently being pruned ready for the 2021 growing season and we hope it will be as brilliant as the last. The cheese dairy is firing on all cylinders making cheese after one of their busiest spells ever over Christmas where they sold out of everything! All the production information has been updated along the viewing windows for the dairy so you can find out how the Sharpham cheeses are made while you watch the cheese making team in action. We have planned all our tours and tastings as usual so you can get a full insight into how we manage the vineyard and produce the wine, and you can find out about our exciting future so you can continue to follow our journey! You will also be able to dine at the amazing Cellar Door Kitchen, who will continue to serve up a diverse menu of delicious dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
Of course, things weren't quite straightforward in 2020, so we will continue to adhere to the latest government COVID guidelines as and when instructed. This means that social distancing policies will have to be followed and we will keep our tours and tastings at a slightly lower capacity in order to make it as safe as possible for everyone. We will continue to maintain our safe environment by implementing strict hygiene regimes, controlling the flow of people and ensuring a two metre distance is achievable throughout our site.
Open tickets for our tours and tastings are now available but spaces are limited so be sure to order yours sooner rather than later! Our booking calendar will go live at the end of February when you will be able to redeem your vouchers or make a new booking for a specific date.
For those who can't visit us, we have our full range of wine and cheese available online now so you can at least enjoy the taste of Sharpham at home.
We can't wait to welcome you all to Sharpham so you can enjoy this incredible place one last time!
Xmas gift boxes, hampers and tour vouchers now available!
This year we have got you covered with the perfect gift selections for the festive period.
Our team have curated two new mixed cases, The Devon Dozen and The Sharpham Six, consisting of a selction of our favourite wines from our range.
We have also teamed up with Sharpham Dairy to put together some great wine and cheese gift boxes that really showcase the best of Sharpham, a perfect Christmas gift for the wine and cheese lover!
And finally, for those wishing to visit our stunning vineyard site on the banks of the River Dart, we have released our tour and tasting gift vouchers for the 2021 season. These range from in-depth tasting tours in the vineyard, to our more casual self-guided wine and cheese tasting flights.
'I have loved almost every moment - time to enjoy a few quiet glasses of wine'!
Dear Sharpham Friend,
It’s time for me
to retire. This will give me heaps more time to have a glass or two of
refreshing Dart Valley wine and I’m counting my blessings that after 32 years
at the sharp-end of this wonderful business, we have found a great way for it
to continue and to thrive into the future.
On 1 October,
Sharpham wines will be made and sold by our close neighbour Sandridge Barton
Wines Limited. That’s the legal nicety
but you’ll hardly notice any difference. Our vineyard, winery, retail and
back-office team will have joined them and the range of Sharpham wines available
on the website will still be winning as many awards. In fact, some of these
awards have been for wines that we have made from grapes grown on the Sandridge
Barton vineyards just down river on the other side of the River Dart.
who has long been our head winemaker, is now CEO of Sandridge Barton Wines
Ltd. I know it sounds posh, but he’ll
still be in the winery in his wellies come harvest time.
I’m guessing that
you’d still like to know about what the team gets up to at Sharpham (and now at
Sandridge Barton as well), to get first dibs of our new wines as they are
released, and to be reminded of what a very beautiful area the Dart Valley is.
In which case, sit tight and you’ll hear from the team without me in due
Thank you for
helping me enjoy a wonderful career in the very special English winemaking
world. I’ve loved almost every moment.
Can I still buy Sharpham wine and cheese online?
– Yes, all our products are available to buy online as normal.
Can I still visit the vineyard and shop at
Sharpham? – Our original shop at Sharpham will be open until 23rd
December 2020. Please look in the ‘Find Us’ section on website for more
detailed opening hours.
How about the vineyard café? – The Cellar
Door café are now closed for the season but they will be here at Sharpham again
for the 2021 season.
Where is Sandridge Barton vineyard? – Sandridge
Barton is two bends down river and lies on the opposite bank from us between
Stoke Gabriel and Galmpton.
Can I visit it? – Not just yet but we are
working on developing a new shop, café and tasting room for the future. We will
keep you up to date with the progress!
I’ve never seen Sandridge Baton wines. Where can
I get them from? – Sandridge Barton Wines has only ever operated as a grape
grower but has been supplying fruit to Sharpham for the last 10 years. Most of
our best selling and award-winning wines have been made with fruit from both
Sandridge Barton and Sharpham vineyard sites.
I loved the fact that Sharpham was artisanal. Is
Sandridge Barton a big ‘corporate’ operator and will we lose the local
individuality? – Sandridge Barton Wine, like Sharpham Wine, is a small local,
family owned vineyard and winery growing fruit to make wine that reflects our
unique climate in the Dart Valley. We’re hands on in every manner and our loyal
team will continue the Sharpham legacy with the same methods and values down
river at Sandridge Barton.
Award Winning Wines
TWO OF OUR WINES HAVE WON GOLD MEDALS AT THE RECENT WINE GB AWARDS!
The Sharpham Wine team are very proud to have been awarded 4 medals at the WineGB awards last week. We are thrilled to be recognised for our hard work and it's great to see our wines from the Dart Valley going head-to-head with some of England's biggest producers.
We were awarded a total of four medals including two Golds for our Pinot Noir and Bacchus 'Stop Ferment', a Silver for our Sparkling Pink and a Bronze for our Pinot Gris 'Wild Ferment'.
Our Pinot Noir was one of only two red wines to win gold and this, right now, is tasting great. Unmistakably Pinot Noir with juicy redcurrant, raspberry, violet and toasty characteristics that is delicate but generous on the palate.
The Bacchus 'Stop Ferment' is our off-dry style that perfectly balances a ripe tropical fruit sweetness with a vibrant, clean-cut grapefruit-like acidity offering up a mouthwatering dance between sweet and sour. Perfect for summer and a great wine with aromatic Asian food or some classic Devon crab.
The Sparkling Pink has had a great year after also winning the Bollicine del Mondo award in Verona for Best Traditional Method Sparkling and has now scooped silver at the WineGB awards. This elegant, dry style is 100% Pinot Noir and has been bottle aged for 30 months prior to release.
Finally our Pinot Gris 'Wild Ferment' won a bronze! This wine is the newest in our range and our first skin contact white. This amber wine shows beautiful colouration, vibrant aromas of tangerine, dried peach and orange blossom and a palate that is full and complex with rounded tannin.
All wines are available online now or alternatively you can into our winery shop if you're local!
PINOT NOIR 2019
Our Pinot Noir 2019 is available now and it tastes great!
We knew the 2018 Pinot would be a tough act to follow but the 2019 offers up a little more weight and structure which really benefits the wine.
The fruit was hand picked and was cold soaked for 6 days, both de-stemmed and whole cluster, prior to fermentation. The total time on skins was two weeks before fermenting out in steel. We then tranfered the wine to 4th fill French oak barrels where most of the wine spent a further six months maturing. We kept one tank aside in stainless steel to preserve the great fruit character of that parcel. The wine was bottled in May and spent two months coming together before release.
This wine is all about the red fruit with aromas of red cherry, raspberry, violet, strawberry leaf, vanilla and clay pot. Soft and delicate on the palate with more tart red berries, a lifted acidity and firm tannin.
We certainly feel this is a more 'serious' Pinot than the 2018 that offers up some good aging potential. That said, we love how it is tasting right now and are sure you will too.
We’re excited to welcome you back to Sharpham again. Safety
is paramount, so you’ll notice changes but we’re sure you will expect things to
be different for a bit and will help us make it work.
We are now open for guided and self-guided tastings.
We will honour pre-existing bookings and vouchers as a priority but will also keep some capacity for new bookings. We will also be running a limited number of self-guided wine tasting flights for booking in advance. Please email email@example.com to check availability.
Here’s a summary of the most important points.
Guided tours – Vine to Wine & Guided Tasting
Guided tastings prioritised for those with existing bookings or with valid vouchers.
Guided tasting sessions will have fewer people so we can socially distance.
Please book at least 2 days in advance before the day of tasting.
Tour slots are limited and are booked on a first come first serve basis via our booking calendar.
Vine to Wine tickets (£20.00) can be transferred to the Guided Tasting and the difference of £7.50 will be offered as shop credit but please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this.
Self-guided tasting flights
Booking is essential to help us manage social
Slots are limited to 45mins so we hope you will
be on time. We have to rigorously clean before the next arrivals.
Our vineyard trails are open to walk at £2.50
per adult (kids go free).
Booking isn’t necessary but please arrive within
opening hours of 11am – 4pm.
Vineyard walkers will still need to book
tastings in advance.
Unless you’re in the restaurant you can take a
chilled bottle at a discounted retail price to enjoy in our picnic spots with
some compostable cups. We know you’ll help us respect this beautiful place and use
the rubbish bins provided.
Sadly, we are not able to offer tasting samples
‘over the counter’ of either wine or cheese, but we know our products very well
and can help you to decide.
We are still following the strictest hygiene
routines in order to make Sharpham the safest place possible. We have created
slots between bookings to sanitise tasting areas and clean all glassware
thoroughly. Toilets and surfaces are being checked every hour. Touch surfaces
such as card machines, door handles and light switches are also being
Hand sanitiser points have been placed on each
entrance and exit point.
Please tell us if you notice an area that needs
Capacity and social distancing
We have limited the amount of spaces on our
tours to comply with social distancing guidelines and have also reduced the
amount of tasting slots to ensure we have time to sanitise and to stagger
All tables will be at least two meters apart.
We have introduced a one-way system.
So, yes, there is a quite a lot of change but the wine is better
than ever following an excellent vintage in 2019 and we have really missed being
able to tell you all about it.
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