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01 Jul 2016

Eastcott Vineyard Tour

30 members visit an English winemakers

One of the most popular events this year was our trip to Eastcott Vineyard to hear the story of English sparkling winemaking. After a quick blast through the highways and byways, fifteen cars in small groups descended for lunch at the renowned New Inn at Sampford Courtenay, enjoying the excellent service and marvellous Sunday lunch.

A short drive later, we were in the foothills of Dartmoor on the southerly slopes that form Eastcott Vineyard. Proprietors of the estate, Hilary and Richard Waller gave an insightful introduction to setting up an Award-Winning English vineyard from scratch, the pitfalls and the highlights and careful selection of location and varietals to suit their microclimate. We examined the vines on the slopes and their care and management in some detail. They are using grape varieties Chardonnay, which can be a little shy of the cold, the old English varieties Seyval blanc and Rondo, Pinot noir precoce and Pinot meunier.

Richard, who is the winemaker, reminded us that sparkling wine was actually invented by an English physician Christopher Merret not Dom Perignon, then gradually took us through their own very particular winemaking process, from pressing the estate-grown fruit to bottling and secondary fermentation of their ‘methode champagnoise’ English sparkling wine. He managed to skilfully fend off some tricky questions from a few of our scientist members Eastcott are now supplying M&S (Cuvee Classic Brut and two more) and Waitrose (Brut rosé) in the south west.

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