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.