Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Sandridge Barton pushes for Dart Valley appellation

Published:  30 May, 2022

Its ageworthy Pinot Noir and outstanding new experimental releases have put Devon on the map of English wine. But now, Sandridge Barton, a still wine specialist, has a wider goal: the creation of a Dart Valley appellation.

Some of Sandridge Barton’s vineyards – first planted in 2008 – are grown on a limestone ridge, including Stony Field, a new eight-acre site planted last year, partly with Pinot Noir vines, on a rocky terrain of ancient geology dating back to the Palaeozoic period.

Located in Stoke Gabriel, South Devon, Sandridge Barton will plant a further 12 acres with Madeleine Angevine and Bacchus vines on its Reservoir Field next year. It will have 44 acres of vineyards by the end of 2023.

Sandridge Barton has built a stylish visitor’s centre with the reconversion of farm buildings, together with accommodation, and a multi-million new winery, funded 40% with EU agricultural funds.

Duncan Schwab, head winemaker, formerly of Sharpham wine estate, leads the production team, alongside Charlie Brown and Mike Shipman. The Sharpham brand name remains on Sandridge Barton wines.

Rather than buying in grapes from elsewhere, Sandridge Barton makes wines from own grapes. But with production capacity ramped up to 120,000 bottles a year, it now hopes to make wines in the coming years from neighbouring landowners who are poised to plant their own vineyards across the River Dart.

Owner Andrew Moon, a former Cayman Islands lawyer, who acquired 400 acres of Devon farmland in 2002, says he’s creating a sense of place and jobs for the community with development focused on sustainability; herbicides are banned, water is recycled from a spring, and energy is sourced from solar panels.

Sandridge Barton’s outstanding new experimental releases; Figgy Daniel, a spritzy wine made in Col Fondo method from Madeleine Angevine grapes, and Little Bee, a wild ferment Pinot Gris, show how interesting, low-intervention still wines can now be made in South Devon, England.

Meanwhile, its Pinot Noir 2020, aged for eight months in French oak barrels, is fast becoming a collector’s wine.

Ahead of moves to establish a new appellation, Schwab is calling for changes to English wine rules. Producing unfiltered wines, for instance, means Sandridge Barton is obliged to place the words ‘Varietal Wine’ on labels rather than ‘English Quality Wine’.