Always keen to promote UK wines, thanks to our friends at Alder Vineyard for helping us prepare the following. There’s a fast-growing interest in making wines of quality in the UK now, and I’ve heard several stories recently of people starting vineyards and learning from trial and error. Alder has been around a longer time than that and their background is worth a read. Ed.
Situated below the picturesque rolling hills of Dartmoor, near Okehampton in Devon, Alder Vineyard is home to the Westlake family and over 4000 flourishing vines.
The Westlake family have been at Alder Farm for three generations and over this time-period vast changes to the estate have greatly altered the face of the farm. When the owners Bob and Anne Westlake grew tired of dairy farming in the 1960’s a new enterprise was born; Alder sportswear, a surfing hardware supplier which still operates from what was the old cow sheds to this day.
In the same spirit of diversification, Bob and Anne’s eldest daughter, Sarah, and husband Mike, saw an opportunity to evolve Alder Farm further and embarked upon a new venture. The creation of Alder Vineyard.
With their mutual love of wine and spending time together in the great outdoors they chose to take on the challenge of wine-making. The couple planted a small vineyard on one of the south facing slopes of the farm, unaware of their forthcoming success.
Within three years, the vineyard saw its first taste of victory by winning multiple awards for its 2015 vintage. The promising start to their new-found project resulted in the decision of expansion to include a second variety of grapevine. The Vineyard currently produces Madeleine Angevine grapes which makes an award-winning fresh dry white wine and Rondo grapes which produces a fruity, medium dry Rose; a complimentary refreshment for those summer barbeques.
To demonstrate the workings of the vineyard, the team currently offer tours and tasting experiences. The tours are designed to invite people to learn about English wine-making and try some of the Westlake family’s prestigious wines, whilst overlooking the natural beauty of Dartmoor.
Five years on from the start of their journey and the small family team at Alder Vineyard are pouring innovation into the business and are looking to expand their successful vineyard even further. With plans to double the number of vines, incorporating new varieties and styles of wine, the family are as ambitious and determined as ever. A shop and café will soon accompany the vineyard and a new purpose-built winery will bring all aspects of vine-growing and wine-making together on site for the first time.
Sarah and Mike can more often than not be found amongst the vines, along with their son Tom and his partner Adam. When they’re not pressing grapes the family team also attend shows and fairs across Devon and Cornwall, proudly showcasing their passion for growing grapes in the wonderful Devon countryside and sharing their award-winning wines.
The Westlake family hope to continue their wine-making adventure, putting the heart back into wine.
To find out more about Alder Vineyard, or to join the team for a Tour and Tasting experience this summer, head on over to aldervineyard.uk . You can also follow the vineyard on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.