Sharpham Wine: A very English wine tasting

    sharpham wine
    Harvesting the Madeleing Angevine grapes at Sandridge Barton

    We visited Sandridge Barton, the home of Sharpham Wine in Devon, to taste why England’s newest wine destination deserves to be on your radar…

    You’d be forgiven for thinking only of the rolling downs of Kent and Sussex and its acres of vineyards when you think of English wine, but Devonshire‘s Sandridge Barton is England’s newest wine destination, and it is taking the industry by storm.

    In a beautiful South Hams valley overlooking the River Dart and with 32-acres of vineyards, the newly built Sandridge Barton opened in 2022, however the vines here have actually been producing grapes for the award-winning Sharpham Wines across the river for decades. And their expertise in the industry shines through on a visit.

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    An aerial view of the vineyard. Credit: Steven Haywood

    The visitor centre at Sandridge Barton offers self-guided and guided tastings, a farm-to-table seasonal restaurant and self-catering accommodation, all on site.

    sharpham wine
    Inside the Sandridge Barton visitor centre. Credit: Steven Haywood

    Although it was pouring with rain on the day we visited, on a sunny day, it would be a picture-perfect spot (it still looked lovely in the rain, might I add).

    The rain couldn’t dampen our spirits as we were headed for a late morning tour and wine tasting, followed by lunch in the Circa restaurant on-site – what could be better?

    A warm welcome awaited us in the swanky visitor centre, and we perused the shop for a while before we sat down to begin our tour and tasting.

    There are several types of tasting experiences on offer, from casual, self-guided options from those who want to taste the wine at their own leisure, to the guided tasting experience, which offers an in-depth guided tasting and a tour of the winery itself.

    sharpham wine
    A self guided tasting. Credit: Steven Haywood

    We were pleased to be on a guided tasting as it meant we could ask as many questions as we liked throughout – and our friendly, and knowledgable guide was more than happy to answer.

    Our tasting included four wines, including sparkling. And the wine, was delicious. Our favourite was the ‘Tipley Hill’ Madeleine Angevine 2021, a light, fruity and oaky white wine with flavours of elderflower – we liked it so much we had a bottle with our lunch after our tasting.

    There’s something particularly special about drinking English wine – it feels like a taste of home. And there’s something even more special about drinking wine that was grown and made just metres from where you are enjoying it – the taste of love, passion and hard work perhaps?

    sharpham wine
    A tour of the winery. Credit: Jim Wileman

    The tour offers visitors the chance to see the winery at work and we were given the opportunity to stick our heads in the colossal steel wine vats (they were empty of course), and see the riddling machine which replaces the traditional champagne way of turning the bottles by hand.

    I’d never been to a working winery like this so it was amazing to see how it is all done and find out more about each stage of the process, whilst enjoying a glass or two ourselves, of course.

    Find out more about Sharpham Wine, its accolades, and visiting yourself, here.

    To finish our tour, and before lunch, we had a glass of red and a plate of two cheeses from the nearby Sharpham Dairy to taste with it. A clever combination of flavours enhanced both the wine and the cheese, and it whet our appetite for our upcoming lunch at Circa.

    Located inside an old stone milking parlour on the Sandridge Barton site, Circa is modern, relaxed and unshowy. The interiors are simple, light and airy and the focus is very much on the menu, and the wine of course, which showcases the very best produce from the estate and the nearby area – it is Devonshire dining at its finest.

    sharpham wine
    Circa restaurant. Credit: Steven Haywood

    Sustainability is key too, so the menu is seasonal and ingredient-led, organic where possible, homemade on site and ethically sourced, i.e. fish caught that morning just a few miles away, or vegetables from no-dig organic farms.

    Fried oysters with anchovy mayo. Credit: Steven Haywood

    The menu is made up of small sharing plates – each totally unique and totally delicious. We had a hard time choosing which to have, but were delighted with our selection – as we would have been with any I’m sure. A lemon sole in a butter sauce was a particular highlight, along with the fried chicken and black garlic, and a delicious pulled beef dish with puréed potatoes and sesame. The menu changes regularly so there will always be something new to try – we’ll just have to go back.

    Asparagus, buttermilk, cornish seaweed and dashi butter sauce. Credit: Steven Haywood

    Stuffed and happy we headed to the shop for one last peruse before we left. We picked up a bottle of the Sharpham Wine sparkling rosé to take home with us – the perfect way to toast a truly delicious day,

    To find out more about Sharpham Wine tastings at Sandridge Barton, and to book your table at Circa, click here.

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