There’s no doubt about it, Devon in the south-west of England is one of the most beautiful counties in the UK. It’s outlined by two stunning coastlines, is home to two National Parks and boasts five official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Luxurious Magazine’s Senior Reporter, Sabi Phagura, went along to explore South Devon in search of food, drink and adventure with a stop in deepest Dorset en route.
With so much to do in so little time, I couldn’t afford to rely on public transport to get me from my abode just outside London. Besides, I love a car journey so I can see and appreciate how the landscape changes as I travel from county to county. With a packed car, and my friend Mel for company, I set off on a 200-mile trip to South Devon on a rainy Friday morning with a stop at Furleigh Estate vineyard and winery in Dorset to break up the journey.
You don’t have to drink wine to know that England is fast earning a reputation for producing some great wines, particularly in the south-west. Dorset and Devon benefit from a mild, temperate climate for viticulture and tends to experience a little more vintage variation than other parts of England. Having said that, it’s a rollercoaster ride and needs a brave soul to plant a vineyard because it takes a long time to get to know your micro-climate and terroir and work out what will grow best in your location. Rebecca Hansford, together with her husband Ian, took the plunge and turned the 85 acres of Furleigh Estate from a dairy farm into a vineyard and winery in 2005.
It took four years of meticulous planning and investment to transform the land into the modern vineyard and winery it’s known as today. Over 22,000 vines grow on the south-facing slopes of the estate, 15,000 of which are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurnier which are used to produce classic quality sparkling wine. Other grape varieties are also grown for still wine.
Unlike many of the larger English wineries, all the wine at Furleigh Estate, in Salway Ash, Bridport, is made from their own grapes. A 5,000 square foot winery was built in 2007 and accommodates a specialist pneumatic press. Having been to several vineyards and wineries across the globe as a travel writer, this was the first time I was seeing one on British soil.