Michael Caines to make wine in Devon

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

16 March 2018

Top chef Michael Caines MBE is to plant 18,000 vines at his country house hotel, Lympstone Manor in East Devon.

The four hectare south-facing site on the Exe Estuary will be planted to the classic Champagne grape varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – with the focus on producing up to 25,000 bottles of top-end sparkling wine. Though the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making some still wine as well further down the line.

There are no plans for a winery on site, and the wines being made by a local winery and aged in its cellars. Discussions on a suitable partner are ‘ongoing’.

Vineyards are being overseen by James Matyear, a Plumpton College graduate, who has joined the team from quality English fizz producer Hattingley Valley in Hampshire. Plans are already afoot for a three day ‘festival of vine planting’ at the end of April, which will include a three-night stay and a tour of the vineyard.

While the microclimate of Devon is described by Matyear as being similar to Kent and Sussex, the soils have a bedrock of sandstone rather than chalk.

‘The geology is very different,’ he told Imbibe. ‘It’s a clay loam that sits on Exmouth mudstone and sandstone, formed 250 million years ago.’

Imbibe readers will have to wait a further six years to find out how this affects the taste of the wines; the first bottles are slated to hit the market in 2024.

English sparklers were one of the best-received categories in this year's Sommelier Wine Awards judging. Read about the SWA judges' thoughts here.

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