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As a Westcountry restaurateur of many years I have been most interested in offering English wines to my wine list. Way back in 1977 I was running a tiny hostelry in Plymouth when I had the opportunity to purchase some rather unique samples of English wine, most I had never heard of or even tasted!

In my experience I reckoned around 80% were barely drinkable, lacking fruit definition, balance or charm apart from one stable sample that shone. The then best wine of the bunch was again a Westcountry wine namely Pilton Manor, a Somerset-based blend of European grapes creating a fruit-driven spicy wine of note. Fast forward to 1981 grapes were first planted on the west bank of the River Dart at Sharpham Estate nr Totnes. Sharpham, the then fledgling wine co waited for three years to make their first white wine. These young grapes have since matured creating Dart Valley Reserve, a dry white wine of distinction. 

Thrive they did, over the last 40 years producing some of the UK’s most innovative and distinctive wines with styles and prices for all markets. Their wines were later awarded with numerous medals and awards from local (Westcountry) and national competitions.

In 2008 an opportunity arose to plant more grapes, this time across the River Dart close to Stoke Gabriel. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir became the main quarry allowing them to go full-steam ahead with quality Sparkling Wine production. 


Pinot Gris was also planted offering the wine team plenty to play with.

Their portfolio grew to a point where the winery was creaking at the seams! Something had to give so around 2018 when the opportunity came to create a new winery and visitors centre near to their newer vineyards they seized the chance. 

In no time at all they built a new sustainable winery capable of producing up to three times the amount of wines as previously able on their original site. With two vintages under their belt plus a brand new visitors centre, restaurant and accommodation nearing completion Sharpham had now the opportunity to change its name to Sandridge Barton the home of Sharpham Wines.

At a recent ‘soft opening’ I attended we were treated to samples of Dart Valley Reserve (£13.49) Sparkling Blanc (£25.50) Pinot Gris Wild Ferment (17.50) and Pinot Noir (19.00). All showed excellently proving the relocation to ‘tother side of the River Dart a resounding success. This perfect move will enable consistent award-winning wines to be crafted amongst the newly-restored ancient farmhouse buildings being brought right up-to-date. 

Visits, tasting, vineyard safaris plus excellent restaurant facilities will soon be available – go to for ‘hot off the (wine) press’ news and directions to this great waterside Devon winery.

Many other English Wines will be available at many Wineries and Restaurants celebrating English Wine Week – this year from June 18th to June 26th creating a truly Midsummer’s event. Some of my other favourites recently tasted are Langham Rose Brt NV Dorset £29.90, Calancombe Estate Bacchus 2019 Devon £15.95, Huxbear Orange Wine 2019 Devon £14.50, Lyme Bay Pinot Noir 2020 £27.99 Devon and Lyme Bay Pinot Noir Rose 2018 Devon.  

All wines are available (subject to vintage) mail order from Wickham Wines via    


Stephen Barrett is a Wine and Food Writer based in Plymouth Stephen welcomes correspondence via his website  Facebook and LinkedIn as Stephen Barrett, Twitter and Instagram as @bistrowineman

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