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News and Events at Yearlstone

Newsflash: Special Xmas Openings

Although the Vineyard and Café are generally closed, we are opening the Yearlstone Vineyard Shop Sat-Sun 11am-3pm from Nov 26 until Dec 18th.

October 2016: News Update

We are delighted to announce a new deal with London based speciality distributor Artesan Provender. They'll be offering our Vintage Brut sparkling 2013 in their range starting in November. Here are their contact details:

Charlotte Hanks
Founder and Freelance Agent
Artisan Provender
Web: www.artisanprovender.com
Mob: 07977552846
LinkedIn: Artisan Provender
Twitter: @artprov

Also WestCountry Hampers are including our Number One dry white wine 2014 in their range:

Phone: 01803 872479
Mob: 07967 209701
Web: www.westcountryhampers.com

Yearlstone red (Number 4) was featured in the South West chef of the year competition held in Exeter. Our red was selected for their mystery basket of ingredients in the finals.

The 2016 vintage was good and bad in parts: There was almost no Pinot Noir, and very little Pinot Gris. But reasonable crops of Rondo, Madeleine Angevine and Seyval Blanc. Sugars were high, but strangely despite the warm summer and autumn weather acidities were normal, whereas we might have expected them to be low. The season was a difficult one for both powdery and downy mildews - not helped by the breakdown of our David Brown 880 vineyard tractor for a good part of the spraying period. Most impressed by an Ottery grower who harvested Siegerrebe, Rondo and (less impressively) Seyval without any spray programme - just a lot of handwork. Stocks of wines remain high after the good run from 2013-2015.

September 2016: Vineyard & Café CLOSED until Spring 2018

Yearlstone Vineyard and the Yearlstone Café are NOW CLOSED until Spring 2018. Yes: 2018!

Yearlstone vineyard, shop and café will not be open at all in 2017 while we do some major building works to the winery. But you can still pop up to buy our wines - by appointment please. You can contact us by email: roger@yearlstone.co.uk or by phone (01884 855700). to enquire. Our Online Shop will still be open 24 hours a day, and our Many Regular Stockists stock many of our wines.

August 2016: News from the Vineyard

Rainfall in the Exe Valley was under an inch in June, same in July, and so far just over an inch in August. The ground is dry and dusty and the crop is progressing quickly.

Not all varieties enjoyed the late cold spring, and there is a very light crop on the Pinots. By contrast the Madeleines, Reichensteiners, Siegerrebe, Seyval and Rondo all look good. We've had our problems in the vineyard, notably with our vintage vineyard tractor, DB 880, needing a new engine (now back in service!). As a result we missed a critical vineyard spray, and have suffered losses to powdery mildew in areas.

We are looking at around 6 tons of grapes - down from last 3 years, but sugar and ripeness levels look like being high.

New outlets include the wonderful Michelin starred Masons Arms at Knowstone, the Swan in Bampton and North Devon's top seafood restaurant Fat Belly Freds in Barnstaple.

Plantings continue at a mad pace all over England as the wine boom of the last decade continues. With Brexit, prices of European wines are going to get higher - so more reason to buy local!

Our 3 Food and Wine Club events this year, in May, June and July, went really well.

May 2016: News from the Vineyard

While Burgundy and the Loire report serious frost damage after recording -6C in late April, we seem to have escaped relatively lightly here in the Exe Valley. We did record three late spring frosts. The worst was -2.8C followed by a -1.1C and a -0.9C. However while perhaps a quarter of the Rondo buds were frost damaged (the earliest buds to emerge) most other varieties seem to have been held back by the unseasonal April cold, and the buds broke after the frosts. While it remains too early to assess damage to the flowering potential, we are a little more confident now that the vast majority of the crop has not been affected.

May 2016: Food and Wine Club events up

We've just published the summer 2016 Food and Wine Club events. We have 3 this year, kicking off on Saturday 28th May with a specially chosen Devon based Menu, then on Saturday 25th June we have our popular Middle Eastern Meze menu, then finally on Saturday 30th July we have a Spanish evening with gazpacho, Catalan fish and chicken, and Majorcan cheesecake.

Easter 2016: We're OPEN Friday-Sunday 11am-4pm from Easter until Early May, then Wed-Sundays 11-4 till early October

Yearlstone Vineyard and the Yearlstone Café are OPEN again after our winter closure, open 11am-4pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from now until early May, and then 11am-4pm Wed-Sundays until October.

Nov 2015: Bronze Medal for Yearlstone No 5 dry white wine

Yearlstone Number 5 dry white wine won a bronze medal at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London in autumn 2015.

The Judges said: "White flowers with a fresh citrus vibrant finish. refreshing."

Aug 2015: General Update

The grapes are looking good again, business is fair to average. Two ducklings survived out of the 13 the ducks raised on our pond - they are pretty big now. The ducklings have wandered into our kitchen several times, looking for food.

July 2015: Few Tickets left for Fish N Fizz event (Sat 25th July)

LAST FEW REMAINING TICKETS FOR OUR SUMMER CONCERT ON THE TERRACE, SATURDAY JULY 25 £25 Fish N Fizz. Live guitar music (Spanish and classical) on the terrace, glass of Yearlstone fizz (pink or white) and a 3 course menu. Tickets £25. Ring 01844 855700 or info@yearlstone.co.uk to book.

May 2015: New Food and Wine Club Events up

Please see our Food and Wine Club for new summer 2015 events.

May 2015: English Wine Week event at Yearlstone: Saturday May 30th

Fish, Music & Fizz. Saturday May 30 6.30pm. Three course dinner based around the finest local fish and fizz...with classical guitar music from David Cottam. Tickets £30pp. Tel: 01884 855700 or info@yearlstone.co.uk. Complimentary glass of Yearlstone Vintage Brut on arrival. Outside on terrace if weather is fine.

Apr 2015: Yearlstone vineyard & café Open Again from Friday April 3rd 2015.

Yearlstone Vineyard and the Yearlstone Café are now OPEN again after the winter. We reopen on Good Friday (April 3rd 2015), 11am-4pm, over the Easter weekend then Wednesdays-Sundays 11am-4pm through the spring.

Mar 2015: Update

All 3.3 hectares have now been pruned. Full range of 2014 wines due to be bottled in May 2015. Re-opening vineyard & café Friday April 3rd 2015.

Jan 2015: Happy New Year; Vineyard and Café Closed for the Winter

Happy New Year to all our customers and stockists & we look forward to seeing you later in 2015. A list of stockists of Yearlstone wines can be found on the website, and of course the online shop is always open! best wishes Roger & Juliet.

Dec 2014: Roger's 'December Newsletter' article for the Mole Valley Farmers available

Roger has written an article for the Mole Valley Farmers Newsletter, about the excellent wine harvest, and the resurgence in English vineyards over the last 50 years.

15th Oct 2014: Harvest video available: Best Vintage of the Decade?

Thanks to our friend Markus Kinch of Film 41, we have a new Yearlstone video on YouTube, showing the: final pick of Seyval Blanc for our 2014 Vintage Brut, plus some footage of Pinot Gris pick day before harvest and processing .

We reckon it'll be the best vintage of the decade!

8th Oct 2014: Harvest update

We're PICKING the following:
Reichensteiner Saturday October 4 (for white Vintage Brut 2014)
Pinot Noir Sunday October 5 (for pink VB 2014).
Pinot Gris (for Number 6 2014), Seyval Blanc (for our white VB 2014) & Dornfelder (for our rosé 2014) - we'll be picking October 11/12 weekend.

Total grape harvest at Yearlstone is expected to be 27-29 tons. We have already seen some of the highest sugar levels ever recorded at Yearlstone in our 35 year history. The Pinot Gris is just about the best yet, but we are monitoring it daily to ensure we pick with optimum ripeness but before any rot sets in.

Aug 2014: Added Us at TripAdvisor link

TripAdvisor now have a nice Tiverton Attraction page for Yearlstone, so we've added a link to it to the left menu on all pages.

Aug 2014: Added a google map of the Bickleigh area to Opening Times and Contact Us pages

At long last, we've worked out how to make embedded google maps work, so made one showing the Bickleigh area and how to find the vineyard. You can find the map on both the:

Aug 2014: Another Wine Experience Tour Date: 30th August

We've just added another English Wine Experience Tour date to our Tours page - August 30th. It's really busy (overflowing actually) in café and shop - warm summer & better economy & our great range of wines = happy days!

Jul/Aug 2014: Likely to be English Vintage of the decade

Confidence is growing day by day that this will be the English vintage of the decade - at least for the Exe Valley anyway. Recent sunny weather and rains means that the grapes are swelling rapidly, and still looking very good.

Jul 2014: Yearlstone at the Mid-Devon Show: 26th July

Don't miss the Yearlstone stand at the Mid Devon Show on the 26th July in the Food Hall - pink & white fizz by the glass for a fiver.

May 2014: Devon Wine Week in full swing

The Nineth Devon Wine Week is a celebration of local food and wine culture in Devon, part of the wider English Wine Week, organised by www.englishwineproducers.com.

Please check with individual vineyards for events. Full list of Devon vineyards at: www.englishwineproducers.com (South West).

Here's the Yearlstone Wine Week Events

10th May 2014: New Yearlstone 2013 vintage wine range available

The new Yearlstone 2013 vintage wine range is now available. There's a new Yearlstone Number 1 & 5 dry white wines, new rosé (Number 3) & red (Number 4). Our sparkling Vintage Brut white & pink 2010 are also available. We bottled our 2013 rosé & red in the last week of April. Our GAI 2500 automated bottle filler and capper worked beautifully after a service and the cellars are filling up again after being virtually empty a week ago!

Mar 2014: Yearlstone updates

In the vineyard the buds are woolly already and showing ominous signs of breaking out too soon. The hot summer of 2013 has ripened the fruiting wood well - most notably the Pinot Noir which are looking better than I can remember. A week or two of cold nights would be very welcome to hold them back. The new wines are coming on well in the winery. Our feeling is that they won't benefit from early bottling, despite the fact that we are completely sold out of at least half the range and down to a few hundred bottles of dry white! So we will aim to release the 2013's around Wine Week. Hope to see some of you from April 4 for the new season!

Here at the Deli Shack Café we will be doing something special with our sparkling wines and new menus - details on our website shortly.

Here are 2014's Food and Wine Club events - note there are only 25 seats available on each occasion,

Dec 2013: Happy New Year!

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you all, hope to see you next year. You can still order wines from our online sales web page and all our local stockists.
Roger & Juliet - Tim, Jessie & Ollie - from all at Yearlstone & the Deli Shack Café.

Oct 2013: Vintage report

With a late start, hot summer and poor autumn, never has the dilemma of quantity vs quality been so obvious for the Devon winegrower. All varieties have struggled to get ripe. The earlier varieties - Pinot Noir early notably - have managed to get there but with mid-varieties like Madeleine Angevine, Reichensteiner & Rondo the quest for quality in the grape has led to significant losses as the heavy October rains battered the physiologically ripe but low sugar bunches.

As for the late varieties! Pinot Noir proper and Pinot Gris just reached reasonable levels for sparkling wine. For the first time ever we are leaving Seyval Blanc on the vine until November to try and get some acceptable ripeness. The weather window for picking have been tiny this autumn - a couple of days either side has been critical. So the cellars will be pretty full but it has been an exceptionally tricky vintage and there are many challenges for the winemaker ahead.

We are not going to have our full range of dry white wines next year. It looks as if we will be able to make only two dry whites, but we will have plenty of rose, red and sparkling wine in the pipeline. Looking ahead and unlike 2012, we will have had good bud initiation in the vine from the hot flowering, and the wood is ripe and brown so we start the two year vine cycle with some credit in the bank for 2014!

Sept 2013: Problem with yearlstone website and email

We are sorry to report that our ISP has had another serious problem with our website and email: in fact we've now changed our ISP as a result! If you've emailed yearlstone recently and not had a reply, please email us again.

August: 2013 Vintage looking quite promising

We are now expecting a harvest of around 10 tons - just about as good as can be expected bearing in mind the poor fruiting wood from last year and poor bud formation last summer. The heaviest bearers are the Seyval, with our 4 year old Rondo also well laden. Madeleines have a medium crop, Siegerrebe the same, the Pinots have a light crop and the Reichensteiner, Bacchus and Dornfelder all have very light crops.

Other local vineyards are also reporting potentially decent crops - at Burrow Hill near Ottery and heavy crops likely at Pebblebed & Manstree. We are now setting picking dates & pickers would be most welcome. Start approx 9.30 - end 2.30-3pm for lunch. Two bottles of wine incentive!

  • Weekend September 21/22
  • September 28/29
  • October 5/6
  • October 12/13
  • October 19/20

August Update

We have a couple of tables left on Sunday 18th August for our first Yearlstone Summer Barbecue. Lunch will be a set menu of grilled meats (see choice below), vegetables, breads and salads (vegetarian option available) for £8.95 per person. We will be serving food from 12.30pm and booking is essential. Email lisa@delishackcafe.co.uk or call 01884 855700 to reserve your table.
  • A choice of Marinated Chicken, Pork or Lamb Kebab or Grilled Artichoke with Halloumi (v).
  • Served with Mediterranean Vegetable Brochette, Jewelled Couscous, Pitta, Flat Bread and Salad

As for the rest of the year, we're now taking bookings for the remaining 2013 season Yearlstone Food & Wine club Events:

  • Saturday 21st September - French Style Cheese and Wine Evening.
  • Saturday 19th October - Harvest Supper.
  • Saturday 23rd November - Paella Party.
Finally, due to a late afternoon wedding reception at Yearlstone on Saturday 17th August, the café & vineyard will be closing at 3.00pm with last lunch orders at 1.30pm.

July update

Up to 50 tickets sold for the launch of our 2012 Vintage Brut and preview of Mary Sumner Exhibition July 4 6.30pm..

STOP PRESS: RELEASE OF YEARLSTONE VINTAGE BRUT 2010 JULY 1ST!

Our 3-hectare vineyard and the Deli Shack Cafe is open for visits Weds-Sundays 11-4 from April 1 till autumn half term and Fridays-Sundays 11-4 from then till Xmas. For details of our wine tours click Tours and Groups. If you hold an Activity Superstore voucher for a wine tour you will need to book the date with them. For more on the cafe click http://www.delishackcafe.co.uk. For Wine Club events and membership click Friends of Yearlstone Wine & Food Club.

LATEST AWARDS/REVIEWS

Yearlstone's Vintage Brut 2009 won a Bronze Medal at the Lyons International Wine Competition in April and also a Recommendation in Decanter with a score of 85+. The VB 2006 was rated joint 4th in England by La Revue du Vin. All our current range have been awarded bronzes or silvers at the English Wine of the Year competition. The current Number 2 dry white was recommended in the leading German language wine magazine Vinum as a Best Buy.

The release of Yearlstone's 2010 Vintage Brut white and pink will be on July 1!

MARY SUMNER ART EXHIBITION AT THE VINEYARD July 4-7th, PREVIEW NIGHT ON WED JULY 3

Local artist Mary Sumner has recently been up at the vineyard, sketching and getting ideas for her exhibition to be held in the café & conference room from 4th to 7th July. Lantic Gallery is hosting a preview evening at Yearlstone on Wednesday 3rd July with wine, tapas platters and the chance to view her vineyard paintings for the first time. Tickets are £12.50 from Lantic Gallery, Tiverton. Full details are below or call 01884 259888 for more details.

VINEYARD UPDATE

The vines have had to cope with coldest spring for 50 years and the dreadful weather of 2012. Fruiting wood is poor and bud formation last summer must also have been low. Bud burst was 4 weeks late, and we don't expect any flowering until at least mid-July. This will limit the potential for late-ripening varieties such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Seyval Blanc. We have had some serious losses in the Dornfelder section with dieback. On the plus side there was no frost damage this year as the buds burst so late. As with many other English vineyards cellar stocks are at an all-time low. Yet again experience of our variable climate has vindicated the mixed-vineyard plantings here or early, mid and late ripening varieties giving us a chance of replenishing stocks if the weather picks up. We plan to bottle our tiny 2012 vintage in late June and release shortly after. We will have a new red, a new rose and one dry white and also a small amount of 2012 Vintage Brut white. The '12 VB will as usual be aged on the lees for 2 years before release.

NEW STOCKISTS

We're delighted to welcome as new stockists for 2013:
Johns of Instow and Appledore
Lye Cross Farm Redhill Bristol
Commodore Hotel Instow
Southgate Hotel Exeter
Grape and Grain wine merchants Crediton
Dartington Trust shops

29th May 2013: Website up again after being dead for a day

PLEASE NOTE: our website was down earlier today, our Internet provider (Netpivotal) is having a really bad couple of months! Thanks to them for restoring the service.

May 2013: Devon Wine Week pages up

We're just putting the finishing touches to our Devon Wine Week events, the Wine Week page is up now at: Devon Wine Week at Yearlstone

April 2013: Yearlstone Email Problems sorted (again)

For the second time this month, email to XXXX@yearlstone.co.uk email addresses was not getting delivered for several days. Our ISP apologises and has now fixed the problem. If we seem to have ignored you, please email us again - we may not have seen your email!

Feel free to contact Roger via his "other" email address: rogerwhite@rogerwhite.plus.com

April 2013: Our Vintage Brut wins French medal and recommendation in Decanter Magazine

Yearlstone's Vintage Brut 2009 sparkling wine has won a bronze medal in one of Europe's top wine competitions - the Lyons International. We're delighted to have success at the first French wine competition we've entered - especially when two thirds of the French entries failed to win anything. Click here to see the Lyon Bronze Medal Diploma.

Vintage Brut is also currently under Recommendation by Decanter Magazine. Three top wine judges, including ex Waitrose wine buyer Justin Howard Sneyd awarded Yearlstone's sparkling wine 85+ points out of 100. Justin Howard Sneyd considered the Vintage Brut in England's Top Ten. The judges' comments were "steely notes and restrained fruit on the nose. Very focused and precise with high acidity and lots of secondary aromas from lees ageing."

In Xmas 2011 France's leading wine magazine La Revue considered Yearlstone's 2006 VB the 4th best sparkling wine in England and great value for money at £16.95.

Decanter Magazine added "The message for wine drinkers is simple. If you have the money to buy Champagne but choose to spend it on English sparkling wine instead you can be confident of getting something at least as good if not better. And you will have the added satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting local grape growers and boosting the UK economy too."

Early April 2013: Yearlstone Email Problems - now Fixed

We apologise that we've been having difficulties with our email for the last few days, this is now fixed. We're not ignoring anyone! If you haven't heard back from us, you might want to resend your email.

Feb 2013: Roger's new Wine column for the Mid Devon Gazette

Here's a PDF of Roger's February 2013 Mid Devon Gazette column:

Feb 2013 Mid Devon Gazette column.

Jan 2013: Roger's new Wine column for the Mid Devon Gazette

Here's a PDF of Roger's January 2013 Mid Devon Gazette column:

Jan 2013 Mid Devon Gazette column.

Jan 2013: Roger's Spring 2013 Wine column for Exmoor Magazine

Here's a PDF of Roger's spring 2013 Exmoor Magazine article: Exmoor Magazine Spring 2013 column

Dec 2012: Happy New Year!

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you all - let's raise a glass to a year of strong progress for English wine in the trade & media.

You can still order wines from our online sales web page and all our local stockists.
Roger & Juliet - Tim, Jessie & Ollie - from all at Yearlstone & the Deli Shack Café.

Nov 2012: Food & Wine Club Paella Party at Yearlstone, Sat 1st Dec 2012

Following the success of last month's Harvest Supper, the Yearlstone Food & Wine Club will be holding one more exclusive evening event before Christmas, our first Paella Party on Saturday 1st Dec 2012. Please see our Food & Wine Club page for the details. We'd love to welcome you to this event, so please get in touch! With very best wishes, The Yearlstone Food & Wine Club

Oct 2012: Harvest Supper at Yearlstone, 27th Oct 2012

The newly established Yearlstone Food & Wine Club held the first of a series of exclusive dining events - our very first Harvest Supper to celebrate the gathering of this year's crop of grapes. We'll be using the best local produce we can find to create a delicious evening meal, served of course with Yearlstone's finest award winning wines.

Sept 2012: New web movie and Yearlstone featured on Escape to the Country

Sept 2012: Vintage Report

Yearlstone's 2012 vintage is estimated to be very small after the summer deluge hit flowering and despite a rigorous spray programme we have had significant amounts of both powdery and downy mildew. Currently we project around 1/2 tons of Madeleine Angevine, and less than a ton of Dornfelder. There are small amounts of Reichensteiner and tiny amounts of Seyval and Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The latter may well ripen too late this year. The three year old plantings of Rondo and Reich will not really be contributing this year either. We echo the words of the spokesman for the Champagne growers when he says that so far this year the vines have had every conceivable problem thrown at them in what looks set to be the worst vintage of our 17 years here in the Exe Valley. Fortunately we have good stocks of sparkling wine (09 and 10) and also of rosé with several thousand litres of 2011 still in tank and not bottled. However there is bound to be upward pressure on pricing in 2012.

Sept 2012: Roger's Winter 2012 Wine column for Exmoor Magazine

Roger was recently asked to write a wine column for Exmoor Magazine. Here's a PDF of Roger's winter 2012 article: Exmoor Magazine Winter 2012 column

Sept 2012: Roger's Mid Devon Gazette 'Country Comment' Column for Sept

Here's Roger's latest Mid-Devon Gazette 'Country Comment' Column from September 2012 (PDF), containing musings on the worst wine summer for many years.

July 2012: Vineyard Report

It's make or break week for southwest vineyards... with flowering just about to happen. So far we seem to be OK, with the vines healthy and green, and loads of florets. But heavy downpours during flowering will ruin it all... as it has done in many parts of France this year.

So wish us luck..... & a week or two of quiet weather 18C+ and no downpours..

Our other news is that things are picking up in the café and shop after a very quiet start to the year. Exeter University's Islamic Dept had an awayday in the conference rooms, which seemed to go well - and we got a 20-case order for our Vintage Brut from Cambridge Wine Merchants... also the Red Lion on the Clovelly Estate have found their Devon Wine List a hit - with 50% of all wine sales last month from Devon producers...

Welcome to new supporters - the Anchor Inn at Exebridges and Exmoor Experience.

We'll let you all know what happened to the fruit set in a couple of weeks.

Jun 2012: Mid Devon Gazette 'Country Comment' Column for June

Here's Roger's latest Mid-Devon Gazette 'Country Comment' Column from June 2012 (PDF), containing musings on supermarkets stocking English wine and on the Devon Wine Week.

May 2012: The Seventh Devon Wine Week - June 2nd-10th

As part of this year's Devon Wine Week, Yearlstone vineyard and the Deli Shack Café hosted the following events and specials:
  • Special Wine Week lunch in Deli Shack Cafe - a Deli Shack Platter and a glass of Yearlstone Vintage Brut for £10 per person.
  • Saturday June 2: 11 am: "How to Set up Your Own Devon Vineyard." Talk by Yearlstone owner Roger White with practical advice on varieties, site and costings. Duration 1 and a half hours. Price £15 pp.
  • Saturday June 9: Evening: Music and Mezes.
    One of Yearlstone's popular musical evenings on the vineyard terrace with David Cottam - the well-known classical guitarist. Enjoy supper and a glass of our fizz. Tickets are £25 per person and are limited..

You can find the whole list of events at different Devon vineyards at our Devon Wine Week pages.

May 2012: News update

Bottling of the 2011 whites went very smoothly, filmed by Bob Cruwys of Westcountry TV and Jon Leach. The new 2009 vintage fizz - aged 2 years on the lees - is now ready. Master of Wine Alastair Peebles visited us to taste the newly disgorged fizz. Alastair's first impressions were that our new in-house policy of minimum 2 years ageing is a success, and the 09 was "delightful." Will the 09 be able to improve on the success of our 2006 - ranked 4th in England by La Revue du Vin? Watch this space.

We have decided to put off bottling rosés and reds for some time - the cool April has held the wines back and they are simply not ready yet. Unfortunately this means we will probably miss the deadlines for the English & Welsh Wine of the Year competition.. reinforcing our belief that it should be later in the year.. to enable all the 2011 wines to be shown at their best. We should stop shooting ourselves in the foot. The competition should showcase the best of the wines of the previous vintage - and give us time to bottle them at the correct time, and still have time to get the compulsory post bottle analysis. A month later for the competition would be a start.

We've entered three Yearlstone wines at the big English wine trade tasting up in London today.. the No 6 partly aged in the Limousin Oak barrel, the ros&ecute; and the 2009 fizz (9 months on the lees).

Media interest strong. as well as WestCountry TV for the bottling, Roger has written articles for Devon Life, Exeter Express and Echo and of course his monthly column in the Mid Devon Gazette. Exmoor magazine also has a summer wine column on Devon wine.. and Yearlstone is a possibility as a vineyard location for a Bollywood movie in late June!

Yearlstone's first Awayday also went really well. Staff and PhD students from the University of Exeter's Dept of Arab and Islamic Studies spent the day in the tasting rooms, had lunch - and sampled the wines... hopefully start of a regular relationship with Exeter Uni.

BBC1's Escape to the Country show went out this month, featuring our final harvest of 2011.... the Dornfelder grapes (lucky it was the year of the decade for red wine...)

VINEYARD NEWS: In the vineyard things have been going very slowly with the cold weather. The number of buds lost to frost has been surprising - and don't back up the widely circulated frost-damage chart from the US.... The worst we had was -0.8C but still a fair bit of damage. No serious plantings this spring - just infilling a few dozen Pinot Noir gaps. Frost damage on Rondo variety now clear - quite bad....30-40%. All vines now budburst and beginning to grow.. Weedkilling this week.. beneath vine rows. Soil sampling to be done this week and dropped in at Mole Valley for analysis. All pre bottling lab reports on 2011 wines now back and all good.

Business in the café and wine shop in April has been depressed - in line with national retail figures. It's been a slow start for Lisa and the Deli Shack Cafe, but things will warm up with the weather surely. Trade still ticking over and we're delighted to welcome a new stockist in Dulverton Tantavy. Also hoping to supply the wonderful old deli in Tavistock Crebers shortly.

7th Devon Wine Week June 2-10... and we have David Cottam (the classical guitarist) booked for Saturday June 9 for a concert in the evening here - with supper & a glass of fizz at £25pp tickets are limited.... bookings now being taken. Also running an introductory course on how to plant a Devon vineyard at 11 on Saturday June 2 - £15 per person.

May 2012: Mid Devon Gazette column

Here's Roger's latest Mid-Devon Gazette Column from April 2012 (PDF), containing musings on wine tasting events, the Devon Wine Week and the Deli Shack Café.

April 2012: Spring News roundup

We're expecting back the latest release of the Yearlstone Vintage Brut 2009 soon. This is both the Pinot Blanc white & Pinot Noir pink aged on the lees for 2 years. See if we can beat the 4th best in England award for the 06 from La Revue du Vin.

All 2011 wines now sent off for pre-bottle analysis - bottling planned for first week in May if all goes well...

New ad campaign starts in May in Devon Food magazine & summer edition Exmoor Magazine.

In the vineyard frost damage has so far turned out less than feared - just some browning of the outer bud on the Rondo and some of the Madeleine. Still at risk though - so fingers crossed.

Soil sampling of vineyard next week. All vines pruned, tied down, trellis repaired and last quarter wire replacemement & renewal now.

2500 new vines arriving from Germany end of April - mainly supply to other growers.

Devon Life has commissioned an article on the rise of Devon sparkling wine for Wine Week... and Devon Food/Exmoor/Gazette will all run items.

Easter business has been slow... and the roads around here dead. Is this a taste of 2012 - or just a slow start after the early warm weather? Who knows? Happy April everyone.

April 2012: Online Wine Sales now available

We are very pleased to announce that UK customers [for now] can buy selected combinations of wines (half-cases and cases) and Yearlstone vouchers online using your Paypal account and your credit card: Click here to see what we have on offer

April 2012: Café under new management

We are delighted to announce that Iain and Lisa from the Deli Shack (Deli of the Month - Fine Food Magazine)... are taking over the café this year. Now called the Deli Shack Café, Iain & Lisa have got some great hams, olives, cheeses to complement Yearlstone wines..... and even a range of Devon roasted coffees for you to enjoy.

Yearlstone now has additional parking (total parking now for up to 30 cars), a newly surfaced vineyard viewing area and some more landscaping around the vineyard terrace. The perry pears have been pruned - so the views down the Valley over the River are even better!

The 2011 wines will be available from May onwards. Lots of group interest - we've already had the first hen party here.. and bookings for our tasting rooms for awaydays are piling up (enquiries from local schools and Exeter Uni)..

All vines now pruned and tying down will be over by the weekend. Reposting of about 1/4 of all our trellising (big crop last year caused some problems - along with wind damage caused by leaf growth till mid December in the mild weather!)

The Yearlstone Fizz (judged joint 4th in England by La Revue du Vin de France) is still available at £15.95. We will shortly have on sale our 2009 fizzes - white and pink - which have been lying on the lees for 2 years.. at the same great price..

Mar 2012: Mid Devon Gazette column, and new Exmoor Magazine Wine column

First, here's Roger's latest Mid-Devon Gazette Column from March 2012 (PDF), containing musings on the Budget as it relates to Winemaking.

Second, Roger has just been asked to write a Wine column for Exmoor Magazine, here's a PDF of his first article: Exmoor Magazine March 2012 column: Wine and Fish - a match made in Devon.

Feb 2012: Vinum reviews Yearlstone and the English Riviera

After the good reviews for our Vintage Brut in the top French wine magazine, we are thrilled to get a nice write up in Vinum - the main German-language wine magazine, whose 85,000 readership (in German and French editions) can learn that..

"In Devon and Cornwall notable still wines are being made by unconventional winegrowers and talented winemakers..."

In it's latest edition (February 2012) wine writer Eva Dulligen explores - as the Vinum headline puts it:

"The English Riviera, a coast warmed by the Gulf stream, Devon is a place where the siesta mood mixes with Anglo-Saxon culture.. from this picturebook area in south Devon come many characterful cheeses but also impressive wines in white, pink & red."

In a double page glossy spread - which will hopefully attract German-speaking wine lovers to the South West vineyards - Eva begins at Yearlstone, and then tours Pebblebed, Sharpham and Camel Valley. Escaping the clutches of our over-friendly German Shepherd/collie cross Timmy, she chooses as her favourite our Number 2 dry white wine:

"Straw yellow in colour. Scent of white fleshed stone fruit, and on the palate peach accents and smoky nuances (from the Limousin oak barrels) and crisp acidity"..

Here's the Vinum article in full (PDF) - hope your German is up to it!

Jan 2012: Mid Devon Gazette Column for January 2012

Here's Roger's latest Mid-Devon Gazette Column from January 2012 (PDF).

Jan 2012: Yearlstone Fizz gets excellent review in La revue du vin de France

La revue du vin de France have just published the results of a tasting of English sparkling wines. We are delighted that they described our Yearlstone 2006 Fizz as - if my French is up to it - "Crisp and lively, this pure Seyval Blanc gets its character from floral & leafy aromas. Fresh and fruity, not lacking personality. Here is a beautiful English identity and good value for money."

Of the 18 sparkling English wines they evaluated, Yearlstone Fizz came joint 4th, with a rating of 14/20 (shared with several other sparkling wines, all of which are considerably more expensive than ours!).

In the original French, they say: "Yearlstone Vintage Brut 2006 Droit et incisif, ce pur seyval blanc tient son originalité dans ses arômes floraux de chevrefeuille aériens et fins. Un jus de fruit flatteur et frais qui ne manque pas de personnalité. Voilà une belle identité britannique et un bon rapport qualité/prix. Note : 14/20 18,70 euros."

Here's the full story.

Jan 2012: Roger On Twitter

Roger has just started tweeting, here we are:

Xmas 2011: Happy New Year

May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year -- from all at Yearlstone.

Dec 2011: Yearlstone review by Europe's leading wine magazine Vinum

Europe's leading wine magazine Vinum is reviewing Yearlstone wines in it's next issue. The German language magazine, with a circulation of 85,000, is focusing on our wines in an assessment of English wines for its readers in Germany, France and Switzerland. The tasting was carried out in October by Vinum writer Eva Duelligen - in the midst of the harvest. The focus was on English sparkling wines, but Eva was also surprised at the quality of our still wines... It remains to be seen what her conclusions are... watch this space!

Dec 2011: Sip Yearlstone Wine in the West End of London

Going to the West End to see a show? Try a glass of Yearlstone's No 2 dry white wine at Tatler's favourite restaurant - Wiltons of Jermyn St with their pre-theatre menu, which says: British wine suggestion: Number 2 Yearlstone's 2010 Bickleigh, Devon "Very pale lemon-green, English garden, very floral and perfumed. Lovely fresh acidity, fair balance and length"

Tatler magazine recently reviewed Wiltons of Jermyn St, saying If we could eat at only one restaurant for the rest of our lives, it would be Wiltons. Of course, we would need very deep pockets because it has never been exactly given away. But hey, you get what you pay for: gull's eggs, the finest langoustines, Dover sole, grouse with all the trimmings, sherry trifle. The hugely experienced and respected Andrew Turner is wearing the whites and GM James Grant runs the show with extraordinary attentions to detail. Tory grandees, heads of state, the odd actor and teenagers on a half-term treat are all served equally at this fine old aristo that has a highly developed sense of noblesse oblige.

Nov 2011: Yearlstone Vintage Report

Here's Yearlstone's 2011 Vintage Report (PDF). In summary - it's a Red Wine Year - Red wines at 12-13% natural! No sparkling grapes this time. Small berries - below medium crop. Very ripe wood thanks to leaves staying on till late November. Early flowering; Mediocre mid season; Some hot weather at the end. No frosts at time of writing - November 20 2011.

Oct 2011: Yearlstone now open Fri-Suns 11-3

Yearlstone Vineyard and Charlotte's Kitchen are now open from Fridays-Sundays 11am-3pm from Oct 1st to late December.

August 2011: Vintage Report

Crop clean, berries small, ground exceptionally dry. Predicted heavy downpours didn't materialise, weather in the past fortnight has fluctuated between 18-19C and 22-24C, with mostly cloudy, some sunshine. Good crops on Madeleine Angevine, Pinot Gris, Dornfelder. Average crops on Siegerrebe, Reichensteiner, Bacchus. Light crops on Pinot Noir. Little or no crop on Seyval Blanc.

Currently we are anticipating a normal harvest period - depending on September conditions picking should go well into October. First picking will be Siegerrebe, followed by Madeleine Angevine a week to ten days later, then the Reichs, and last of all the Dornfelder, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Bacchus.

Like to help with the harvest? Picking volunteers should e-mail info@yearlstone.co.uk please stating availability (days) and giving contact number. We usually pick for up to 6 hours, provide lunch & wine and a free couple of bottles of Yearlstone wines (you get to choose which).

July 2011: Famous London restaurant Wiltons takes Yearlstone wines!

The legendary Jermyn St restaurant Wiltons is to stock Yearlstone wines, following a visit by the general manager James Grant. Wiltons - established in 1742 - is a landmark name among English restaurants and prides itself on an exclusive wine list. James is also to stock Yearlstone wines in his independent wine shop in Wendover - No 12 Pound St.

July 2011: Brixham seafood restaurant adds Yearlstone Vintage Brut fizz to its list

No Fifteen Seafood Restaurant Brixham - a keen promoter of Yearlstone's wine range for the past two years - has now added our 2009 fizz to its range. This popular harbourside seafood restaurant is usually packed during the summer season, so make sure you book if planning a visit!

July 2011: Yearlstone crop looking big

The Yearlstone crop is looking big - despite some indifferent flowering weather. Heavy crop on the Madeleines, good crop on the Pinots, but a poor crop this year on the Seyval Blanc (also reported to be the case among other Devon producers). Picking dates expected to be about average, the cool June spell compensating for the very warm May. First crop will be (as usual) Siegerrebe in mid September.

June 2011: More Success for Yearlstone Wines

Yearlstone Vineyard's run of success at competition has continued - with another seven awards at the 2011 English & Welsh Wine of the Year competition. This brings to well over 50 the number of awards won by Yearlstone wines in the last 4 years. Top performers from the newly released wine range were:

SILVER MEDAL: Yearlstone Vintage Brut 2008, a sparkling wine made from Reichensteiner, aged on the lees in bottle for 10 months.

SILVER MEDAL: Yearlstone's 2010 rosé, continuing a run which has seen Yearlstone rosés win silver medals for the past 3 years at this competition. The 2010 rosé was made from Regent grapes.

BRONZE MEDALS for Yearlstone's two new dry white wines - the Madeleine Angevine based Number 6, and the Siegerrebe based Number 5. Also BRONZES for the new red, made from Regent and Rondo, and the two new sparklings - Vintage Brut 2009, made from Pinot Blanc and Seyval Blanc, and the Vintage Brut Rosé 2009 made from Pinot Noir and Dornfelder.

The current price for the Vintage Brut is £14.95, and for the still wines range from £7.50-£9.95.

June 2011: News update

Despite a cooling down in the last two weeks we still estimate an early flowering - latest thinking is it will start on or around the last week in June, a week to ten days early. There has already been some flowering on the two year old Rondo vines in the replanted Old Vineyard and another indicator - the Triomphe vine on the cafe courtyard wall has already flowered and set a full crop. The Boskoop eating grape on the wall is in mid flower.

Rainfall of 1.6 inches has been recorded in the last 48 hours - breaking the drought.

The 6th Devon Wine Week, despite minimal publicity due my bad back!, went well - with takings on the 5 days we were open very close to the total take from 7 days in 2010.

Yearlstone was glad to welcome Mark Pygott from Oliver and Byrd wines back after an absence of seven years - Mark went through the full new range of wines and we hope we have persuaded him to add some English wine to his Languedoc based list. Interesting that he much preferred our 2006 100% Seyval Blanc fizz to the 2009 Pinot Blanc fizz.

Visit from the Archers over at Ottery, graduates of the Yearlstone summer How to Make a Living from a Vineyard course. They are hoping to get their first crop from their three year old 9000 vine vineyard this year, - and we wish the two generations well.

All the still wines are now bottled - and we just face the 20,000 bottles of fizz next!

May 2011: Devon Wine Week May 28-June 4

This year's Devon Wine Week is running from May 28th to June 4th 2011. As part of this, we'll be running guided tours of the vineyard and winery for £7.50 per person, at 11am Weds June 1 and Sat June 4.

We hope many of you can join in with English and Devon Wine Week and support Devon vineyards. We'd love to see you!

May 2011: Yearlstone in the news

BBC Cornwall interviewed Roger for the following news item on the BBC website: Warm April boosts hopes for Devon and Cornwall wineries.

BBC Spotlight regional TV news filmed an interview with Roger a few days ago, this will be released on YouTube soon.

Roger's May 2011 column in the Mid Devon Gazette can be found here (PDF).

May 2011: Bottling finished, 2010 Wines Available, Vineyard report

We have now finishing bottling our 2010 wines - about 50,000 bottles have rolled off the bottling line - and have now released our new 2010 wine range in time for the 6th Devon Wine Week (see item above).

The vineyard is looking promising. The potential crop is big, and we are at least a fortnight ahead of normal. My early warning system for flowering time (OK, it's just a red vine on the wall in the café courtyard) has amazed us all by starting to flower in the middle of May. Add on 3-4 weeks for the more exposed setting of the vineyard itself, and we could be off to the races somewhere around the middle of June. That would be more normal for the Loire than for Devon.

April 2011: vineyard spring update

The sixth Devon Wine Week begins May 28th. Vine budburst began over a week ago (April 8th). Early, but no signs of a spring frost so we could be away to a flier! Vines all tied down and posting and wiring renovated (another 35 big end posts replaced - would metal have been better? 100 Pinot Noir infilled in gaps in the red section, few hundred Reichensteiner, Pinot Gris and Seyval Blanc also replacing gaps next week or two. 8000 vines arrived today from Germany - to distribute around South West vineyards - a lot of demand for Solaris, also Rondo, Seyval Blanc, and Regent. We have ordered a few hundred Bacchus, Reichensteiner, and a few Pinot Gris. Ruinous Euro exchange rate of 1 Euro 10 cents!

Lovely to see young Alex Mills back from his second year on the Plumpton College vineyard course - happy to help him out with his 100 hours work experience for the 2011 harvest. There are 50 people on his course! - English vinegrowing certainly is in demand.

Bottling begins shortly - late April. Some of the 2010 wines tasting great in the cellar - notably the Bacchus (our new Number 6). The new Number 2, Madeleine Angevine, is benefiting for having 225 litres stored in a new light French oak barrel to soften and round it. Also our new fizzes (09) due back shortly - both white and pink. New wines on sale from start of the Wine Week (May 28).

Not so good news: Wine duties up by another 7% - up by one third in the last 3 years. That's right Chancellor - clobber the English vineyards as hard as you can! Small brewers can get a 50% reduction - why not winemakers? Equality please.

Web site visitors up by 20% so far in 2011 - why is this? We haven't had any big press coverage lately - so hopefully it's just a sign of increased awareness of our wonderful wines!

Cafe business is booming - right from the day of re-opening (April 1). Roger's back (sciatic nerve) seems to have healed, and he is back in the vineyard. So far so good. Hope many of you can join in with English and Devon Wine Week and support your local vineyard.
-- Roger and Juliet.

Jan 2011: Happy New Year

We'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and we hope to see many of our regular visitors again when Yearlstone reopens around Easter 2011. Now the pruning begins (when the snow melts).

Nov 2010: Harvest Over - 70 tons from 16 vineyards

The final pick of 550kg of Pinot Gris was made on Friday Oct 22, and the final pressing is booked in for Monday October 25. They bring an end to perhaps the biggest crop of the decade for the South West - 70 tons from 16 vineyards have been processed in our winery.

That beats the previous record of 60 tons in 2006. Ripeness levels across the range of grape varieties have been good - acidities a little high reflecting the relative lack of warmth in August and September. Full details of the ripeness and acidities of all varieties will be published early next week on our web site for those interested.

Once again - good for sparkling wines - and we are making 25,000 litres of fizz - far more than ever before. For our team of Juliet. Roger, Markus & John it has been an unbroken month of morning, afternoon and evening pressing. Yearlstone's own crop was sound and ripe - for the second year some lovely Pinot Noir, and our usual excellent crops of Seyval and Madeleines.

October 2010: 15 Tons in so far

Crops in so far: Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine, Rondo, Pinot Noir Early, Bacchus. All showing excellent ripeness and flavours - all crops clean. Acidities slightly higher than average. 15 tons in so far. New Cooling System installed in winery from Germany.

Sept 2010: bumper crop expected for mid September

The best of the decade! Yup, really. We're expecting 70-80 tons into the winery, 80,000 litres - which would outdo even 2006 (65,000 litres). The vineyard is looking in the best shape ever - disease-free, & heavily laden. Other Devon vineyards are the same - with Manstree expecting over 22 tons and Pebblebed over 30 tons.

It's all to play for on the grape quality front, with September beginning fine and warm and dry. Latest addition to the winery - a German glycol temperature control system to cover 15-20,000 litres of fermenting juice. Oh and another lovely French oak barrel for our Pinot Gris.

We're still looking for a suitable assistant winemaker. Sales fine & steady. Looking also for new outlets for our 2009 fizzes which are in second stage - due out from spring 2011. A wonderful year to be an English vigneron - assuming no late shocks or hailstorms!

August 2010: News Round up

2010 VINTAGE LOOKING PROMISING: Flowering a week earlier than average began on June 30. Heavy Madeleine crop clean at mid-August, heavy Seyval, moderately heavy Pinot Gris and Reichensteiner. Light crop on Dornfelder and Pinot Noir, but clean so far.

SECOND VISIT BY DAILY MAIL WEEKLY WINE COLUMNIST OLLY SMITH IN EARLY AUGUST: Olly is especially keen to follow the progress of our 2009 Pinot Noir pink Vintage Brut.. (due for release 2011 sometime....). He's been a big fan of Yearlstone for many years, having picnicked in the cider orchards here before he even entered the world of wine.

July 2010: Yearlstone Wine Courses

We're happy to report that one of the graduates of our first wine course - " How to Make a Living from an English Vineyard" is doing just that - close to Ottery St Mary. Another new entrant advised by us has planted 9000 vines in the same area. The 2010 Wine Course was attended by several potential new recruits, including a former City high flier.

June 2010: Yearlstone's Juliet White Scoops 13 Awards at Wine of the Year Competition

GOLD, TWO SILVERS, NINE BRONZES AND A HIGHLY COMMENDED - BEST RETURN YET FOR YEARLSTONE WINEMAKER.

The results of the 2010 English & Welsh Wine of the Year competition have confirmed Juliet's position as one of the country's top winemakers.

Juliet won gold for her Rondo-based 2009 red, Yearlstone Number 4 - going one better than with her 2008 red, which (only!) won the President's Trophy for best red in South West & Wales.

Her 2009 Yearlstone rosé and a Bacchus-based dry white wine she made for Willhayne Vineyard both won silver.

9 more of her wines won bronze, with the 10th winning highly commended. It brings to over 50 the number of awards Juliet has won at this competition in the last four years.

The gold-medal winning red can only bought direct from the vineyard and is priced at £12.95 per bottle. The rosé is stocked widely across Devon, and sells direct from the vineyard at £7.95.

Commenting on this year's competition Master of Wine Susan McCraith said:

As a panel we were all very impressed with the quality of this year's entries. The still rosé category was the highest quality we've seen - truly world-class, and the red categories were the best we've ever tasted.

June 2010: Charlotte's Kitchen - the Book

A love of food matched with the light, delicate and mouthwatering flavours of English wine is so new - someone just had to write about it!

So here's a lovely foodie book from Charlotte Lampard matching some of her best recipes with Yearlstone wines - from butternut squash, lime & ginger soup (Yearlstone's crisp dry white Number One) to pea & lentil salad (Yearlstone rosé) and The Kitchen's Good Beef Stew (Yearlstone red), it's already selling like her trademark Tunisian Orange Cake.

Beautifully photographed by Mark Davison, regular visitors to Charlotte's Kitchen at the vineyard will recognise Charlotte's relaxed fun approach to cooking: most of the recipes are for between four and six people.

Comes with a foreword by Robin Hanbury-Tenison (husband of Marika Hanbury-Tenison, the long time cookery editor of the Daily Telegraph) who says:

Charlotte does not blind the reader with exact amounts but allows the cook to use his or her imagination to make the dish fund and flexible. I know how much hard work goes into making recipes look easy and tempting. Charlotte has just the right light touch.

So to sample the delights of Butternut Squash, Lime & Ginger Soup, Genevieve's prawn curry, Aubergine Stew with Halloumi & Herbs, twice baked Cheese Souffles, Lemon Posset or the Kitchen Plate..... pick up a copy of this delightful gift direct from the vineyard for £7.50, or order it via Amazon....... you won't regret it... Oh, and while you're at it. pick up a bottle of two of Yearlstone wine to make the recipes complete!

June 2010 News Update

Devon Wine Week 2010 is over now. In the Second Wine Challenge (held on Thursday June 3rd at the Devon Wine School) I'm delighted to say that Devon rosés beat Loire rosés; 20 wines were tasted (11 from Devon, 9 from the Loire).

Devon rosés took the top two places, 6 of the Top Ten wines, and our very own Juliet was the winemaker for 4 out of the top 10 - including the best two:

  1. Ashwell Rosé 09 ( winemaker: Juliet White )
  2. Pebblebed Pink Brut 06 ( winemaker: Juliet White )
  3. Sharpham Rosé 09 ( winemaker: Duncan Schwab)
  4. Cremant de Loire Rosé ( winemaker: Pascal Pibaleau)
  5. Sancerre Rosé La Croix St Ursin (winemaker: Sylvain Bailly )
  6. Rosé d'Anjou 09 ( winemaker: Andre Besnard )
  7. Rosé d'Anjou Champteloup 09 ( winemaker not known )
  8. Manstree Rosé 09 (winemaker: Juliet White
  9. Pebblebed Rosé 09 ( winemaker: Juliet White )
  10. Kenton Rosé 09 ( winemaker: Matthew Bernstein ).

May 2010 News Update

Replanting went amazingly well! In the space of three weeks the old vineyard was manured, ploughed, tilled, black plastic laid - and hand planted with just under 1000 Rondo ordered directly from the Mosel. Guards and canes have been put in thanks to considerable help from 21-year old James Thorne, just back from a stint at a vineyard in South Africa. James soon worked out how to put them on better than me. About 400 replacements were also put in where gaps had appeared over the years. The growth on the Rondo is strong, and serious consideration is being given to training them high, as recommended by several vineyard friends.

Devon Wine Week arrangements seem to have gone mostly smoothly and we are all looking forward to the Wine Challenge at the Devon Wine School, pitting our rosés against a selection from the Loire. Still spaces left on our summer courses (June 25 is the first one - How to Make a Living from an English vineyard ).

Bottling hasn't always gone smoothly, but we are on the last lap, bottling our 2009 fizzes - trying to forget an incident in which one stillage was tipped off the back of a lorry by an incompetent driver! It's all on camcorder, but insurance claim is proceeding. At least we've learnt that £1300 per ton is a standard road haulage insurance rate - now upgraded!

On the positive side, a rare success against that old bugbear - British wine.. It is quite incredible after all the fuss over honest labelling etc, and all the hoops we have to jump through just to put the truth on our label about the grape variety and vintage etc... that this imported grape concentrate muck can be labelled British and get away with it! Talk about total hypocrisy at official level! Worse still it was prominently displayed (at £2 a bottle! shows how good it is) at our local farm co-op, close to the entrance near a Taste of the West display. Of course a quick Google shows once again how most punters think it is English, try it as it's cheap - and bang goes English wine's reputation. What a country! Anyway after a few emails and phone calls I'm delighted to say the co-op has agreed with me, de-listed it, and is now putting on Devon wines instead. But when will officialdom pay some attention to this fiasco?

Rant over, - sun out, French open beginning, - so life is pretty good really. Everyone enjoy English Wine Week.

Dec 2009: Happy New Year

Thanks to all our visitors, and may we wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Nov 2009: Top Quality Vintage - high hopes for wines of 09

The warm and sunny autumn saved what had seemed like another precarious vintage for South West vineyards, and led to a low to moderate crop of beautifully ripe grapes - potentially one of the best vintages for wine quaiity of the decade.

While some press reports of a bumper crop were not generally borne out in Devon, with yields for most of between 1 and 2 tons to the acre - nevertheless most vineyards saw near-record sugar levels along with decent acidities promising much for the wines of 09.

For Yearlstone we saw a superb small crop of Pinot Noir, which is already fermenting away to make a small 400 litre batch of Pink Vintage Brut - which should be available from spring 2011. Because of pre-ordering and it's potential this flagship wine will only be available on a basis of one bottle per customer. The Pinots came in at near-perfect levels of fizz, at around 70 OE and 10 acidities. Other varieties to show good levels of ripeness were Reichensteiner ( picked at 11.5% natural alcohol ) and Siegerrebe (again over 11.5% natural). This should lead to some unchaptalised wines - a rare event. Red varieties (Rondo - Regent - Dornfelder) also came in with good ripeness.

Stocks remain short however - and the trophy-winning 2008 red has already sold out.

As of this weekend the last of the original vineyard planted in 1976 by Gillian Pearkes - has finally been pulled out and the exhausted 30+ year old vines will be replaced in spring 2010. We are planting the red variety Rondo in place of Gillian's Madeleine Angevine.

The winery has appoximatey 40,000 litres so far - with a possible late pick of Seyval Blanc still to come. This compares to 60,000 litres in the bumper year of 2006, 30,000 in 07, and 20,000 in 08. Some fermentations are already finished - and the new temperature-controlled tanks from Italy have been much in use in the late warm weather.

In 2010 we are planning more English-wine related courses here, and indeed expect to be chosen as one of the venues for training under the new European Union viticulture scheme (part of the reform of the wine laws).

Oct 2009: Roger starts a regular monthly column in Mid Devon Gazette

Roger White has started a regular monthly column on life at the vineyard for: Mid Devon Gazette series. Here's the First column from October 13 2009.

Sept 2009: Vintage Report

No spring frosts leading to a warm or even hot June. Vineyards with early flowering got away to a flier. Those - like Yearlstone - which flowered in early July had a difficult set. Wet July & August led to difficulties controlling downy mildews. Lovely September sunshine rescued the crop. Growers across Devon realised they had more grapes than they thought - and sugar levels are high, with decent acidities.

Crops already in as of September 26th: Manstree Siegerrebe - for aromatic white wine at 85OE and 8 acids. Pebblebed Pinot Noir Early at 83 OE and 10+ acids - for sparkling wine. We are picking our Madeleine Angevine Saturday Sept 26. Manstree are picking their Madeleine Angevine Sept 25. Pebblebed Madeleine Angevine & Rondo Sept 27. Staplecombe Madeleine Angevine Sept 28. Heavy crops of Seyval Blanc due in Mid October along with Phoenix and Regent.

Sept 2009: Yearlstone to Feature in New Book on Devon food

Yearlstone is to feature in a new book on Devon food producers written by Western Morning News' Carol Trewin - photos by Adam Wolfit.

July 2009: Michael Caines Restaurants: English Evening in Exeter

On Wed 8 July 2009, there was an evening of English food and wine at the Michael Caines Restaurant in Exeter. Presented by Andy McLarin, with guest speaker Geoff Bowen from Pebblebed Vineyard. Some highlights of the mouthwatering menu include: Local salmon.
Yearlstone's No 5 Schonburger 2007 Bickleigh Devon
Sharpham brie cheesecake, celery, walnuts & apples
Bacchus 2007 Sharpham Vineyard Ashprington Totnes
Pebblebed rosé, Pebblebed Vineyard Topsham
Strawberries, Cornish clotted cream, meringue
Camel Valley Sparkling Brut 2006, Cornwall

July 2009: Vineyard Courses

The first two courses for new entrants to the vineyard business launched this month in our new lecture rooms. 10 students from all over the country attended our 1-day introductions to: How to make a Living from a Vineyard & The Practical Issues Involved in setting up your own winery. With several new enquiries we will be running more courses in 2010 - including a more general fun 1-day event for anyone with a keen interest in wine. Contact roger@yearlstone.co.uk for more, or watch the site for details.

June 2009: The Big Interview with Katy Manning. Mid Devon Gazette series profiles Roger White. Extracts:

"The message about local wine is spreading very fast...Most producers are already selling out of all that they grow - that's probably why there's a big boom in plantings going on. There are now 40 vineyards in Devon where only a few years back there were about a dozen. " We make our own style of wines - if you like light wine with a bit of subtlety our climate is fantastic" " We're concentrating more on things like delivery wine courses - over the past 15 years we have built on what was already known and have a good idea what works and what doesn't.... New vineyards are sometimes not taking enough notice of the experience of the past 30 years - and what grape varieties and business models will work in England...."

May 2009: Devon Wine Week begins May 23!

This year's Devon Wine Week, featuring Yearlstone and many other beautiful Devon vineyards, is about to kick off this weekend.

May 2009: Yearlstone now open Wed-Sunday 11am-4pm

Yearlstone is now open longer, Wednesday thru Sunday every week from 11am to 4pm. There are regular Guided Tours every Sunday and Weds at 2.30pm - meet the owners and winemaker Juliet White, includes guided tour of vineyard, history of Yearlstone and English wine talk, tour & demo in winery, and full tasting of all wines... £10 per person....

Apr 2009: Winemaking Courses at Yearlstone

Reviving the old Yearlstone tradition, we are beginning our first courses this summer. With so many new plantings it has long struck me that there has been a neglect of learning from the experiences of others in making a go of a vineyard - and I am often surprised at the vague business plans of those embarking on the major expense and commitment of planting a vineyard. So our first course is going to be...

Making a Living out of a Vineyard in South West England -- July 9th

Here we will discuss the two or three proven ways to make a living out of growing vines and making wine - and the many ways which have failed. We'll examine the costs of going the various routes, the likely returns - pricing options for selling to the trade and retail - and the ancillary options to the core business.

Our second course Setting up Your Own Winery - the Practical Considerations -- July 23rd will follow our own experiences in graduating from having our wine made by the excellent Martin Cursham at Staplecombe through to our first winery in what is now the cafe, through to the major investments made in the last 5 years in our new winery. Costs, paybacks, training requirements, sourcing of equipment, the pros & cons of making wine in small batches - will all be covered. This will include a detailed inspection of our winery with award-winning winemaker Juliet.

Both are one day courses and include lunch at Charlotte's Kitchen. The cost is £95 per person. Places will be strictly limited. Contact us and have a chat if you're interested.

Mar 2009: March Updates

Wine Shortage gets Desperate

The season of grovelling apologies is here again. Interest in English wine is clearly still growing. Unfortunately once again progress is being checked by a shortage of something to sell!

Can we supply a London restaurant chain - their chief sommelier tasted our wines in the autumn and was impressed? Well - sorry - no. Can we deliver another 5 cases of rosé to a regular hotel customer on the East Devon coast? Well - terribly sorry - but the rosé is down to the last 100 - and the season hasn't even begun. Can we supply 700 bottles to an official function in Exeter? Well no...that would take 5% of stocks alone...

It's truly embarrassing. Especially when I've spent the last two years urging the trade to offer Devon wines far more widely...and rubbishing those who don't!

Charlotte who took over the cafe risked a very early opening this year - but it seems to be paying off with a steady stream of customers in the March sunshine, many sitting out on the terrace under the parasols! Along with our many regulars, we are now seeing some new patrons - brought in by Charlotte's light touch and careful selection of local ingredients from the farmers markets...

Work in the Vineyard

The fear of frost after last year's disaster has led me to re-introduce an old habit - leaving the vines not tied down till a late April blitz. This, I believe, reduces the damage to buds from frost - the few vines left waving in the air last year lost about a third of buds,compared to well over half of those tied down.

This spring I have created the Potting Shed in a corner of the vineyard - where so far I have propagated well over a thousand cuttings of all my main varieties. I already have a few hundred from last year - Pinot Noir, Bacchus & Dornfelder - which will either be used for infilling or sold to visitors in the summer.

Work in the Winery

Juliet is happy with the way the wines are tasting - happier than she believed she would be considering the very poor summer and low light levels. Bottling is set to begin at the end of April. The new concrete areas in front and at the side of the winery are already making life a lot easier for tank cleaning, washing down and general storage.

Feb 2009: Snow, Pruning and Bottling Approaches


Pruning in the snow here at Yearlstone - scenes never before seen in the Exe Valley (at least while we've been here). It was almost like pruning in Italy where a friend helped out a few years back in max daytime temperatures of -7C. The vineyard wood is poor after last year's dull summer, but we are hard-pruning and sacrificing yield for quality this time around. Roger has now pruned 1500 of the 6000 vines and has three hard weeks work ahead.

We've got the builders back too - widening the driveway ready for a new posh resin-bound surface, creating some new car parking, flagstoning in front of the cafe, and creating a new extension to the bottle store - where we plan to hold courses on vineyard/winery skills, and also host more corporate events without taking over the terrace and cafe. The winery courtyard is also being newly surfaced, and a wide track concreted around the side for storage of bottle pallets.

In the winery last year's small vintage is under control - Juliet will be filtering and checking everything in the next fortnight, ready for April/May bottling. But there won't be much wine to sell in 2009 - we have approximately 8000 litres in the winery, compared to 18,000 last year, and over 20,000 litres in 2006. More days at the beach! - and we may have to slow down on al the new trade enquiries we've been getting, so we can stick to our longtime supporters.

Jan 2009: Happy New Year - Thoughts on 2008

May we wish all our visitors, customers and stockists a Happy New Year. Looking back on 2008, despite the credit crunch, and much to our amazement. when we added up the sums sales are up by 1% on 2008 over 2007 - despite being closed an extra day during the summer season and handing over the café to Charlotte's Kitchen in October. Real organic growth must still be running at over 30% a year when these factors are taken into account - how many other businesses can say as much at the moment? The real difference this year seems to have been direct trade - with the hotspot undoubtedly being East Devon, with the very supportive and food-quality conscious people of the Topsham-Ottery-Budleigh triangle. But we also have made some progress in North Devon and even into Cornwall.

We had nearly 27,000 visits to our website in 2008, nearly 8,500 separate visitors we believe. About 1,100 of those returned several times.

Dec 2008: Exeter Xmas Market

At the invitation of Exeter City Council's Dave Lewis (and after an exchange of views about the wisdom of inviting German Xmas markets instead of highlighting our own regional foods), Yearlstone attended its first Xmas market in the centre of the city on three Fridays in December.

And I'm glad to say we survived intact despite the distractions of a punch up between two local women at the nearby crepe stand and an all-day ordeal of Ghetto-blasted Pan Pipe music from the general direction of Boots.

Not quite the joyful and friendly celebration perhaps of the great foods and crafts of the region - but we just about broke even... A salutary reminder that despite all the awards and publicity received in recent years, just how much more there is to be done to persuade the "man/woman-in the street" that there are great wines on their doorstep.

Nov 2008: A small well made range of white, rosé and red wines - along with a fine sparkling Brut...

... So begins our entry in the long awaited new book on the Wines of England & Wales by the Andrew Simon, Louis Roederer and Glenfiddich wine writers of the year David Moore and Philip Williamson - now on sale via Amazon at around £14.99. They continue: The winery is very well equipped, with stainless steel tanks and full temperature control along with a cool room which not only aids chilling operations but can be used to hasten the reds through malolactic fermentation.. Among Juliet's recent additions are a membrane press ensuring excellent first run juice, vital for top quality sparklers and a new state of the art bottling line.

About the wines they say:

Yearlstone No 5 ... not dissimilar to a Gewurztraminer with a very aromatic quality - drink as young as possible to benefit from the spicy yet fragile aromas.
Yearlstone No 6 ... arguably the best of the whites. A fine blend of Pinot Gris, Reichensteiner and Madeleine Angevine... an impressive weight and minerality here.
Yearlstone No 3 (rosé) ... A fresh and immensely enjoyable rosé, a blend of Pinot Noir, Madeleine Angevine and Seyval Blanc. The white grapes add a floral and fresh edge to the structure and soft grip of the Pinot Noir...
Sparkling Vintage Brut ... Classic Champagne method vinification with whole bunch pressing and on the first 50% of the juice used. Good fruit purity and depth with additional complexity offered by 15 months on the lees.

31st Oct 2008: Terrace Café reborn as Charlotte's Kitchen

We are pleased to announce that the Café is now called Charlotte's Kitchen, and is open once again. It is licensed, has a light, cheerful and airy contemporary feel, and can seat up to 30 people inside and 20 outside on the Terrace with fantastic views over the vineyard, Bickleigh Village, the Exe valley and the River Exe winding its way to the sea far below.

Charlotte's Kitchen serves a range of light meals using local food ingredients - and will continue the tradition of sourcing local food and cooking local ingredients simply and seasonally where possible.

Please click here for more information about Charlotte's Kitchen and the Terrace.

13th Sept 2008: New Winery Tanks from Italy

Winery Tanks

Yearlstone has just taken delivery of 18,000 litres of winery tank capacity direct from Italy. The new tanks - 4x 1500 litres, 4 x 3000 litres - are all variable capacity and temperature controlled.

6th Sept 2008: Yearlstone moving up the Rankings

In National and Regional Competitions judging 2007 vintage wines only, counting GOLD medals as 3 points, SILVER as 2 points and BRONZE as 1 point, Yearlstone is now in 4th place (Nationally) and joint 3rd place (Regionally):
National:
1. Three Choirs 10
2. Chapel Down 10
3. Denbies 7
4. Yearlstone 6
5. Biddenden 5
6. Astley 4
7. Camel Valley 3
8. Sharpham 2
9. Stanlake 2
10. Wickham 2
 
Regional (South West Vineyards):
1. Three Choirs 12
2. Camel Valley 8
3. Yearlstone 5
  Astley 5
4. Manstree (Yrl) 4
5. Parva Farm 3
  Sparchall (T Ch) 3
6. Pebblebed (Yrl) 2
  Sharpham 2

In the Regional competition, wines made by Juliet White (Yearlstone's winemaker) scored 5+4+2 = 11 points, because we make wine for ourselves, Manstree and Pebblebed.

9th July 2008: Yearlstone Open Wednesdays to Sundays

Starting on Wednesday 9th July, Yearlstone vineyard is now open from: Wednesdays-Sundays from 11am-4pm.

1st July 2008: Yearlstone Wines win more Awards

On June 26th, the prestigious English and Welsh Wine of the Year 2008 competition was held at Brightwell Vineyard in Oxfordshire, with a top team of judges, chaired by Patricia Stefanowicz (Master of Wine). This year Yearlstone did even better than the past two years - with our own wines winning two Silver Medals, four Bronze Medals and a Highly Commended, and another two Yearlstone-made wines winning medals; so, in total, wines made by us won 8 out of 52 medals (Bronze & Silver) for 2007 vintage wines.

All the wines we entered got an award..... Our top scoring wines were:

SILVER MEDAL Yearlstone Number 3 2007 (rosé).
SILVER MEDAL Yearlstone Number 6 2007 (barrel aged dry white).
BRONZE MEDAL Yearlstone Number 4 2007 (red).
BRONZE MEDAL Yearlstone Number 5 2007 (aromatic dry white).
BRONZE MEDAL Yearlstone Number 6 2006 (barrel aged dry white).
BRONZE MEDAL Yearlstone Vintage Brut 2006 (sparkling).
HIGHLY COMMENDED Yearlstone Number 1 2007 (dry white).
The judges were all Masters of Wine - Patricia Stefanowicz MW, Julian Brind MW, Anthony Foster MW, Maggie McNie MW, Alastair Peebles MW, Stephen Skelton MW and David Wrigley MW. Patricia comments "This annual UK vineyards competition highlights the quality and range of styles that England and Wales produce. We were delighted to see vineyards entering the best that they produce, and this was reflected in the higher number of awards. Professionalism and quality in grape-growing and winemaking has shone through, and the range of different producers now winning top awards shows just how good the standards are. This is a serious competition."

More details about the competition from English Wine Producers (www.englishwineproducers.com), please contact Julia Tristram Eve at English Wine Producers, or Roger at Yearlstone on 01884 855700.

Yearlstone continues to invest heavily in its winery - with 10,000 litres of temperature controlled stainless steel variable capacity tanks due from Italy shortly.

Late June 2008: Mark Hix visits Yearlstone

The well-known food writer Mark Hix (of the Independent) visited Yearlstone vineyard in late June with some friends, and was inspired to write an article in the Independent on Sunday entitled Yearlstone and raspberry jelly, in which he uses our Fizz and local raspberries to make a lovely jelly. Describing our Fizz, he says: we were most impressed with the 2006 sparkling brut, which would sit happily alongside other international sparkling wines that I've tasted - including some of the great prosceccos.

June 2008: Marcus Kinch's second webmovie of Yearlstone up

Our old friend Marcus Kinch has just finished our second Yearlstone webmovie. Watch Roger telling you all about the sharp April frosts we suffered - losing an alarming number of buds from the grapevines - and, on a happier note, see our brilliant new Bottling and Capping machines in action as we crack through the bottling operation.

June 2008: South-West England Catching North-East France

Yearlstone's Vintage Brut English sparkling wines ran a close second to some of the most famous names in Champagne - in a contest held to mark Devon Wine Week 2008. Look here for the full press release.

June 2008: Devon Wine Week 2008 just finished

Devon Wine Week 2008 has just finished, there were many events at Vineyards all over Devon. Here at Yearlstone, the weather was rather mixed, so numbers were down - but we can't complain as sales were up!

April 2008: Marcus Kinch's first Yearlstone webmovie

Our old friend Marcus Kinch, who is a professional photographer of an extremely high calibre, recently visited Yearlstone with his girlfriend Ros, and did some filming of us around the vineyard. Here's the finished movie on YouTube, with a very professional commentary from Roger about life on the vineyard (I always knew that training as a BBC journalist would come in useful one day!).

April 2008: Wine writer David Moore visits Yearlstone

Award-winning wine writer David Moore visited Yearlstone Vineyard on Thursday - singling it out as one of the first English vineyards to feature in a new wine guide. Mr Moore - co-author of the respected Wine Behind the Labels series - was taken on a tour of the vineyard, winery and tasted the full range of Yearlstone wines.

The Behind the Label wine guides have won the Louis Roederer, Glenfiddich and Andre Simon wine writing awards in recent years -and aim to be " the ultimate guide to the world's leading wine producers and their wines. " David Moore is compiling an English Wine Behind the Label guide due for release in June - and published by BTL Publishing. He was accompanied on the visit by BTL's marketing and PR manager Janey Gilbert.

"David had to fit in this visit between many international assignments and we're flattered that he chose us" said Yearlstone's Roger White. "It's more proof that the best names in the wine world are sitting up and taking notice of our wines, and English wines too - and we're waiting eagerly for the book to come out!"  Wine Behind the Label 2008 is ISDN 9 780955 765704 priced £19.99.

Feb 2008: Roger's Weekly Vineyard Diary in "Western Morning News"

Starting last Saturday Roger's starting doing a diary for the Western Morning News on the vineyard year. It will be in the Food section of the Weekend paper - here's a snippet from Roger's first item: Had our first meeting for Devon Wine Week which begins on May 24. I counted 24 Devon vineyards now. Seems we won't get any sponsorship from DEFRA this year - local food lost out it seems to climate change on their priority list. Funny - I would have thought they might have been connected...However Yearlstone records since 1976 show no evidence of any climate change in earlier ripening dates at all.

Jan 2008: Yearlstone voted fastest improving vineyard in England in Tom Stevenson's Wine Report 2008

Yearlstone has been voted fastest improving vineyard in England for the second year running by the prestigious publication Wine Report 2008 - the Essential Insiders Guide to the World of Wine. The Wine Report is written by sparkling wine expert Tom Stevenson, with a team of regional specialists covering each major wine region of the world, published by Dorling Kindersley £9.99, and voted Best Wine Reference Book in 2007 by Decanter magazine.

The Wine Report put Yearlstone in the top place in its Top Ten   Fastest Improving English Vineyards for 2007 - the full list is:

  1. Yearlstone
  2. Astley
  3. Brightwell
  4. Heart of England
  5. Plumpton College
  6. New Hall
  7. Bookers
  8. Glyndywr
  9. Warden Abbey
  10. Wyken

The Report said "The Top 10 is probably the most useful indicator. While the rest of the market lags behind you can benefit from the inside knowledge of the Wine Report, buying up top performing wines long before others cotton on and prices increase". Yearlstone was in exalted company - in the Rhone Valley the fastest improving producer was Domaine de la Mordoree from Chateauneuf du Pape, and in the Loire Chateau de Passavant from Anjou.

In the national review of English wine, the Report said "The changes occurring in the English wine scene are remarkable. With the area under vine occupied by sparkling wine varieties having doubled in three years and even more planting in the pipeline.... the story has never been far away from the airwaves and the press."

Jan 2008: New Year update

May we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! Best wishes for 2008!

Thanks to everyone who came to our pre-Christmas openings, it was a hard work but we had a lot of fun! We're now pruning 6000 vines - which will take us right up to the vineyard reopening at Easter.

The 2007 wines in the winery are all just about finished fermenting, bar one or two problem tanks - not a single one needed de-acidifying this year - which is some kind of record. The winery extension has been useful - and we now have close to 50,000 litres capacity. New kit for 2008 planned include an upgraded crusher destemmer and some more new top-of-the-range Speidel stainless steel tanks.

Dec 2007: Christmas update

We had an exceptional December for wine sales - and for new recruits in the wine trade, with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage coming on board, as well as Master of Wine Liam Steevenson's Red and White Wine Company, Honiton wine merchant Christopher Piper, South Molton's Bray Valley Wines, and too many more to mention.

Sales from Yearlstone have just about tripled - largely thanks to our second fizz, the Yearlstone Vintage Brut 06, going on sale at the beginning of December. This, as you may recall, was recommended by a certain Oz Clarke on BBC 1. This wine has been left for nine months in cellar - the minimum period allowed to make a real Champagne - but we have a second batch which will be left longer, about 15 months, and should be available by midsummer 2008.

December media coverage has been outstanding - a column in Devon Today, mentions in Devon Life, a page feature on Devon wines in the Western Morning News - and another BBC 1 series in contact.... Take a look at our new Yearlstone in the press and media page for details of all the above.

Oct 2007: Open 11am-5pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

We are now concentrating on our busiest period - picking several tons of grapes and pressing them to make next year's wine! Despite this, we are still open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays thoughout October, the weather's still (mostly) lovely, do come and visit us!

Sept 2007: Yearlstone Fizz gets rave reviews from BBC Countryfile with Oz Clarke

The BBC's Countryfile team recently brought TV personality Oz Clarke along to sample Yearlstone's sparkling wine - Vintage Brut 2004. The programme aired on BBC 1 on August 30th.

Oz Clarke

"More like Champagne than champagne itself" was Oz's message - as he waxed lyrical over the quality of a bottle of fizz during the filming of the Countryfile feature on the new Devon Wine Trail. "This is absolutely fantastic fizz" he announced as his fellow presenter Lotte Duncan cracked open our bubbly on the Yearlstone viewing area on a lovely summer's day. Back at the studio, the rest of the Countryfile team sampled the fizz again, and all three of them loved it! Oz was also impressed by Yearlstone's rosé (Number 3) and by the Number 1 and Number 5 dry whites.

The Countryfile team also visited the new National Trust walled garden vineyard at Knightshayes and our friends at Pebblebed Vineyards near Topsham. Their wines came in for lots of praise as well!

Our new 2006 fizz will be ready just before Christmas, priced at £14.50 - and we've sampled it already and reckon it's even better than the fizz Oz and Lotte tasted in June! We can take phone orders, please give us a call if you're interested!

Sept 2007: Who makes the Best Wine in the South West?

There's a record entry for this year's South West & Wales Wine of the Year competition, more than 120 wines from all over South West and Wales. The biggest region and the best wines!
Who will win? Don't miss the latest verdict in the rise of our regional wines. The competition is held at: Darts Farm Topsham at 11am Saturday 8th Sept. There are ten professional judges led by Alastair Peebles Master of Wine, ex director of famous wine firm Berry Brothers and Rudd of London.

August 2007: Yearlstone crop looking good!

Despite the torrential rains, our crop is looking good - with up to 5 tons on the Madeleine Angevine, and good crops on the Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Reichensteiner. A few varieties such as Seyval Blanc have hardly any crop at all - clearly unable to set in the rain. But overall we should be on target for a decent crop, perhaps one week behind normal at present. Some vine stress from leaching out of soil in the rain countered by foliar feeds. Other Devon vineyards report very mixed results - one vineyard with mainly Seyval is all but wiped out, another with more Madeleine like us is looking at a healthy crop. 2007 is clearly a year for the ever reliable South West varieties - such as Madeleine. Surprising how the Pinots have coped so well when they're often considered marginal.

August 2007: Other Updates

The extension to our winery is now mostly completed - this will enable us to move the press and crushing equipment out under cover, releasing more of the winery space for storage and the screwcapping/filling machine.

Our new batch of sparkling wine is tasting brilliant - at least as good as the 2004 we think - and we should have the first batch ready for sale by December 1st. We have a new sparkling wine specialist centre project under consideration with a business partner.

The new labels on bottles are now ready and have been well received - generally felt to be much smarter and more informative. Sales good - and cafe overflowing. 60 lunches from our tiny kitchen is a challenge - and not quite why we got into vineyards!

July 2007: Yearlstone Wine voted in Top Three Nationally

At the recent English Wine of the Year 2007 competition, Masters of Wine voted a Yearlstone Vineyard wine in the top three English white wines made in 2006. Yearlstone Number 5 2006 was awarded a silver medal, an impressive performance as only two other white wines from 2006 also won silver - out of a field of nearly 200 wines from all over the country. Yearlstone's rosé (Number 3) was awarded a bronze medal, and our Number 1 (dry white) and Number 6 (Pinot Gris oaked dry white) were awarded highly commended. We didn't submit a fizz to this competition as we had sold out of the current batch of the 2004 fizz and hadn't yet got the 2006 fizz ready.

The judges were all Masters of Wine - more details about the competition from English Wine Producers (www.englishwineproducers.com), please contact Julia Tristram Eve at English Wine Producers, or Roger at Yearlstone on 01884 855700.

Out of a total of 74 wines of 2006 vintage winning Commended or above - Juliet (Yearlstone's winemaker) made 7 of them! (our four above plus Pebblebed rosé, Willhayne White and Manstree Siegerrebe). Winning just over 10% of the awards when we made around 1% of the wines is another strong performance - and one which probably earned us the accolade "Fastest Improving Vineyard in England" in the 2008 World Wine Report.

June 2007: English Wine Week a storming success!

Music and Meze concert

Despite last week's wind and rain there was a spectacular turnout in EWW across Devon. (See our Devon Wine Week 2007 page for details of events). On the first Sat & Sunday according to YAHOO English Wine Week was the most popular search ahead of Big Brother.

Both Yearlstone's concerts sold out and we could have booked twice as many people - wine sales were strong - and even half a dozen new trade outlets are stocking our wine. Locally the Cadeleigh Arms 2 miles away has seen the light - the Tiverton Hotel (Best Western) is featuring Yearlstone wines as wine of the month for both June & July. Riverside Cafe in Tiverton is also stocking our wines now, and the Victoria hotel in Sidmouth is taking our Number 5. Plenty of other enquiries,

Also in the Devon vs NZ wine competition just held at the Devon Wine School Yearlstone came out on top (at least of the Devon challenge!). See the next item for details.

June 2007: Results of the first Devon vs New Zealand Wine Competition

The first Devon vs New Zealand Wine Competition was held a few days ago at the Devon Wine School in Cheriton Fitzpaine Devon, with a distinguished panel of wine judges chaired by Master of Wine Alastair Peebles, ex-director of Berry Brothers & Rudd.

Devon wines put in a respectable showing against some of the world's best wines - selected and put forward by New Zealand marketers and importers. Yearlstone's Sparkling Vintage Brut led the Devon charge - rated as highly as New Zealand's Montana Chardonnay/Pinot Noir fizz - both were awarded a bronze medal.

Exeter vineyard Manstree also scored a bronze medal with their MayVal dry white wine in the Classic White Wine category - scoring equally with New Zealand's Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc and New Zealand's Fern Bay Sauvignon Blanc. In all Devon wines were awarded two bronze medals and nine commendations out of a total field of 16 wines entered. New Zealand wines - including some of the best known names in the wine world such as Oyster Bay were awarded 1 Gold, seven silvers, 5 Bronze and 1 Commended.

Commenting on on the results Roger White from Yearlstone Vineyard said "It was a big leap for us to take on the might of New Zealand - some of the finest white wines in the world. We did not expect to beat them - NZ has 18,000 hectares of vines and Devon fewer than 20 vineyards totalling not much more than 50 hectares so far - but we're delighted that we did so well right across the board - and in the sparkling wine category can clearly compete on even terms already."

Chairman of the judges Alastair Peebles MW from the Devon Wine School commented: "This was a truly independent competition. All wines were tasted blind. No account of price was taken - just whether judges liked the wines put before them. Two bronzes and 9 commendations is more than respectable - and a sign of how rapidly our local wines are catching up."

Even in the red wine category Devon was represented - with Kenton Estate Red narrowly behind New Zealand's Trinity Hill Syrah - gaining a commendation. Other Devon wines commended were; Pebblebed Vineyard, Sharpham Vineyard, Willhyane Vineyard and Down St Mary. The list of judges is available - and included a New Zealand winemaker and a NZ importer.

The respected wine magazine Decanter will be printing a full account of the competition in the near future.

May 2007: Devon Wine Week 2007 - bigger and better than ever!

The second Devon Wine Week (which we organised again) ran from May 26th to 2nd June 2007, with 14 vineyards taking part - the perfect opportunity to learn more about just why wine from our beautiful county is beginning to make an impact. In the last five years the number of vineyards in Devon has doubled as a new wave of growers and winemakers follow the lead of the pioneers - Yearlstone Vineyard in Bickleigh, Sharpham Vineyard in Totnes, Down St Mary near Crediton and Manstree near Exeter - all of which have been winning awards for over 20 years in national and international competitions. The hub of growing currently is focused around Exeter. Ambitious Pebblebed Wines has planted 20 acres in and around Topsham, joined now by Kenton Vineyard with 5 acres on the other side of the Exe Estuary, and Old Walls Vineyard near Teignmouth. East Devon now has Willhayne and Highcroft Vineyards, and commercial crops are expected soon from Alan and Julia Petchey in the North.

After the tremendous success of 2006's Devon Wine Week, we planned even more events across the County - from river cruises to classical guitar concerts, regional wine & dine evenings matching local food to local wines, a Devon vs New Zealand competition conducted by Master of Wine Alastair Peebles, and many guided tours and talks of the vineyards and wineries themselves.

It's the biggest of all the regional Wine Weeks - so, next year, don't miss out on the opportunity to relax in the wonderful scenic settings of our vineyards, taste some of our fabulous whites, rosés and sparkling wines (even the odd surprising light red), meet the growers and winemakers, and with luck soak up the late spring sunshine!

For more information on the week look right here: Devon Wine Week.

Mar/Apr 2007: Exeter Festival of Food and Drink

We had a frantic first Exeter Food Festival from Friday 30th March - Sunday 1st April at Northernhay Gardens and Rougemont Castle Courtyard in Exeter. On the Saturday we reckoned to have poured 1000 tastings. Sales OK - some confusion over whether vineyards were allowed to sell wine by the glass - in the end we were allowed to, but told no one could go outside the marquee with a glass (how were we supposed to stop them?). Good display by the Devon vineyards - 5 big displays out of 100 producers Sharpham-Pebblebed-Manstree-Down St Mary and ourselves. Negotiating for a Devon WineBar in the Castle itself for next year!

Mar 2007 - planning for Devon Wine Week 2007

This year's Devon Wine Week (which we're organising again in May/June 2007) looks set to be bigger and better than last year. New vineyards signed up to take part - Kenton Vineyard and the Petcheys near Barnstaple bringing the total to 15 (Down St Mary, Sharpham, Yearlstone, Pebblebed, Manstree, Old Walls, Ashwell, South Beara, Garden Cottage, Willhayne, Highcroft, Higher Living and Blackdown Hills + the new two). Once again Julia at English Wine Producers has pledged solid support for Devon Wine Week, as have Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, Mid Devon District Council, Taste of the West, Slow Food and Ashfords Solicitors.

We have a fuller programme of events this year - all over the county - and a special Devon Wine Week List of wines for restaurants and pubs - all approved and tasted by our resident Master of Wine Alistair Peebles.

Feb 2007 - New Capping machine from Germany

In late February 2007, having (finally) finished the pruning, we hired a van and trailer, drove to Dover, crossed the Channel in a ferry and then drove all the way through Belgium and into Germany - all in order to pick up a new GAI 2500 Top monobloc bottle filling and screw capping machine from Clemens engineering, based in the town of Wittlich in the Moselle valley.

On the left is Yearlstone's expert winemaker, Juliet shaking hands with George Leimbrock (sales manager of Clemens) as we take ownership of the new machine. On the right we see Juliet doing a day's training course on the machine.

Tests on visitor groups have shown the vast majority of people are now perfectly happy with screw caps - a far better technology than corks.

The GAI 2500 is an all-in-one bottling and capping machine, minimising contact of the wine with air in the process - and capable of bottling 2000 bottles per hour.

In the near future, we'll also be buying a rinser from Wolverhampton.

Jan 2007 - New Year news Update

The pruning has now begun. First 1000 vines pruned now - out of a total of 6000. The Mills planting of a new Bickleigh vineyard begins in spring - they are now going to plant 3 acres of vines under contract to us, mostly red (Rondo grape) and Seyval (sparkling grape). Dave Chappell from Cadeleigh is going to plough, subsoil, lime and till the Mills vineyard - then lay down black plastic Mypex - with rows 2m apart and vines at 1.4 metres from each other. We wish David and Simone Mills the best of luck, and look forward to using their grapes in future years!

Dec 2006 - Yearlstone special pre-Christmas weekend openings

The vineyard, café and shop were all open each weekend from 25th November right up to Christmas Eve - perfect for Christmas shopping! Special thanks to everyone who came, and here's wishing everyone a very Happy New Year.

Dec 2006 - Yearlstone's first Fizz nearly sold out

Our first fizz has disappeared from the shelves with astonishing speed! During 2005, we made 1000 bottles of Brut Sparkling wine using the 2004 vintage Seyval Blanc grapes. This has to undergo a double fermentation process taking about a year, so the fizz was only ready in September 2006. By Xmas 2006, we had ALMOST SOLD OUT, less than 100 left. We had expected our first 1000 to last a year - but they lasted about 3 months! Our next fizz - the 2006 vintage - won't be ready till around Xmas 2007 - but we're making triple the amount.

Nov 2006 - Strong performance in the 2006 Wine of the Year Awards

Top Masters of Wine reinforced the growing reputation of Bickleigh's Yearlstone Vineyard at this year's English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition. Yearlstone's barrel-aged Pinot Gris (Yearlstone no 6) was one of a handful of English wines to be awarded a silver medal - by a distinguished panel led by Waitrose wine consultant Julian Brind. The 2005 rosé (Yearlstone no 3) continued a run of success for Yearlstone rosés by winning a bronze medal (our 2004 rosé was named best English rosé by Easy Living magazine). All of Yearlstone's 2005 range of wines were awarded at least a commendation by the six judges. Out of 65 awards in the whole of the country for the 2005 vintage, 8 were made by Yearlstone winemaker Juliet White.

Finally, our brand new 2004 fizz (sparkling Brut-style wine) was highly commended - this is the joint highest award for a fizz!

Nov 2006 - Yearlstone featured in "the Great British Summer" on BBC1

Yearlstone's preparations for the 2006 grape harvest were featured on November 26th on prime time BBC1 television at 8pm, in the final episode of the Great British Summer presented by the indefatigable Alan Titchmarsh. Approximately 15 minutes of the hour long programme were dedicated to Yearlstone! Viewers were treated to a fine display of Juliet and Roger obsessively worrying about sugar content in their grapes, performing the essential hundred-berry test, and deciding exactly when to start picking - and who's available at very short notice.

Oct 2006 - Record Harvest in the South West

October was the most frantic month yet in the winery. Bumper crops of all varieties, from Seyval to the Pinots (Noir and Gris) just poured in, and with the TV cameras around (filming for the Great British Summer) as well! In all we pressed 50 tons - compared to 23 tons in 2005 and 26 tons in 2004. One ton usually makes about 1,000 bottles.

The new membrane press bought in August from Slovenia was a Godsend! Its capacity of 3 tons plus really made life a lot easier - enabling us to knock off some evenings before midnight! Beautiful juice too, with its gentle pressing - at no more than 1 bar - with very few solids and a high extraction of nearly 70% juice. We are hopeful of yet another jump in our wine quality with this press.

We are also now awaiting delivery of a monobloc bottle filling and screw capping machine from Germany - tests on visitor groups have shown the vast majority of people are now perfectly happy with caps - a far better technology than corks. This is an Italian made all-in-one machine, minimising contact of the wine with air in the process - and capable of bottling 2000 per hour.

The sugar levels on the crops were quite good - but with such a heavy load, not spectacularly high - with the exception of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, which loved the summer. Acidity was generally very low - thanks to the warmth. There was definitely disease around in most vineyards we know about - both powdery and downy mildew - downy mildew was especially bad in the South West. But no bird or wasp problems for once.

June 2006: Devon Wine Week 2006 a Success!

Music and Meze concert

From May 27th - June 3rd 2006, we organised the Devon English Wine Week, with many special openings and events at Yearlstone and several other Devon vineyards.

The Yearlstone special openings and events were a great success, with over 40 people attending one of our Music and Mezes evenings - sitting on the Vineyard View Terrace, eating a delicious light meal and relaxing to classical guitar music.

Timed to coincide with the wine week, we released our 2005 vintage wines. Sales were brisk, especially the sparkling wine!

Jan 2006: New Year News

Pruning begun. New Year Resolution - to potash fertilise the vineyard to encourage fruitfulness. Filling in the gaps in the young vineyards where deer and rabbits have done their worst.

WINERY: Phew - less pressure than 2005. We made much less this year - around 15,000 litres.

Several new vineyards around are starting up - Ottery St Mary, Teignmouth, Honiton, Barnstaple - and one chap growing Shiraz to the west of us! Some seem not to be in the SWVA (South West Vineyards Association). We wish them all the best of luck.

News from 2005

2005 was a very similar winegrowing year to 2004, except for the heavy rains right at the end, in mid October, which did dilute the Seyval. Sugars high again, and acids low - warm weather day and night. Very strict control on cropping for quality.

At the UK Wine of the Year Competition 2005, Yearlstone wines won one Silver medal (No 3 rosé - "balanced, fragrant, fruity nose, off dry, spritzy.."), one Bronze medal (No 6 - "very light oak, some vanilla, rounded, good mouth feel") and a Highly Commended (No 4, our red - "great oak"). Roger commented "this is a reward for the £50,000 investment we've made in our new winery and a tribute to Juliet's growing winemaking skills."

2005 was a very average year for sales after two fantastic years of growth. Why? We won more medals than ever before. The local independent wine merchant did say sales were down 40% in 2005 compared to 2004. Is it the supermarkets? Or just a tough year?

News from 2004

The 2004 harvest was heavy. Although the summer seemed wet and sunless, the sugar levels were very good - the Madeleine came in at 76 Oechsle, quite a bit higher than usual. Acidity was normal. Pinots struggled to ripen fully, and a good quarter of the grapes were left on the vine (around 60 OE unpicked). Help from David Harris on his summer break before heading for Gloucester to study has knocked the lower vineyards into some shape. The neglected new plantings now look a lot better, with some yield in the Quarry and 2000 plantings in the New Vineyard. The Pinot Noir look to be further on than some of the earlier varieties.

The replanted area of the Old Vineyard had a difficult first season, with high winds blowing the black plastic mulch about several times, and some evidence of rabbit attack. Still around 60-70% of the cuttings look to have taken well.

Business has been brisk - with the prospect of another early sell out of wines, despite doubled sales targets. Group tours have proved hugely popular, and the cafe is building up a local following.

The winemaking month of October was tough. We made close to 25,000 bottles.

Our first appearance at the Mid Devon Show seemed worth it, thanks to David and Heather Meredith for sharing some of the burden.

The new labels have met with a mixed reaction - some further development is likely next year. Our Number 5 (Bacchus) won a _ good _ bronze award at the UKVA competition - and congratulations to Geoff at Eden for getting a highly commended with his first wine at the UKVA.