Located on the fringes of the historic market town of Totnes, the vines of Sharpham Vineyard lie alongside the River Dart in a microclimate of their own. This area of the world is steeped in history, and if you’ve never sampled English wine before, then the rolling hills of Devon are the perfect place to start!
After all, once in the winery, there’s a vineyard to wander around, a wine bar at which to sample some of the tipples, and a restaurant serving plenty of locally sourced food. On-site, there’s even a dairy producing award-winning cheeses which are now sold across Europe…
A brief history of Sharpham Vineyard & Sharpham House
The vineyard sits on the Sharpham House Estate, a five hundred acre plot of land which traces its roots back well over a thousand years. The current house was built in the 18th-century when seafarer Philemon Pownoll earned his fortune after he captured a Spanish treasure ship together with his crew.
Once back in Britain, Pownoll purchased the millennia-old Sharpham Estate which lies two miles south of Totnes. And in the very heart of the acres of land, he opted to build a mansion in the latest styles. The house’s architect was Sir Robert Taylor (best-known for designing Maidenhead Bridge), while the gardens were designed by Capability Brown.
Brown was one of the most famous English landscape garden designers to have ever lived. And notable works by him include the gardens of Chatsworth House and Croome Court. Brown and Taylor collaborated on a number of projects, including Heveningham Hall.
Sharpham Vineyard was one of the first wineries to be founded following the closure of all British commercial vineyards during the Second World War. Today, the UK is home to well over seven hundred vineyards, which commercially produce over five million bottles of wine a year!
Fancy learning about wine from Scotland? Check out my article about tasting Scottish wine!
Tasting Sharpham Wine & Sharpham Cheese
If you’re not the designated driver and wish to try some of the tipples for yourself, then you can sample a basket comprising of four ‘samplers’ for the reasonable price of £7. This way, you can try the wines without having to commit to buying a full bottle.
If I’m honest, the wines are good but they do tend to err on the pricier side of things, so it’s worth bearing this in mind if you wish to purchase some Devonian souvenirs. But then again, commercially produced English wine is a fairly new phenomenon and by purchasing British wine, you’re aiding in the local industry. The wine is award-winning, the batches are created in small quantities, and you go for the experience and ambience…
While English wine is not as well-known around Europe, Devonshire cheeses have been noted for their quality and taste for decades, if not centuries. Highlights of the foods produced at Sharpham include various Sharpham Brie varieties, as well as several herb-infused hard cheeses.
The option to sample in-house made cheese while you sip on your tipple starts at £3 per person. This includes three Sharpham produced varieties paired with crackers and locally produced chutney. While in the café and restaurant area, there are al fresco, as well as indoor dining and sampling options.
When to visit Sharpham Dairy & Vineyard
The best time to visit the winery is in the early summer when the vines are in full-leaf and the wildlife alongside the River Dart is in full swing. Entrance to the vines starts at £2.50 per person for a self-guided exploration of the vineyard. There are several different routes you can opt to take, including a stroll alongside the water’s edge.
Things to do near Sharpham Vineyard and Dairy
Drive down the River Dart Estuary: If you have access to a car and a couple of spare hours, then it’s well worth taking the time to drive along the narrow and winding road which traces the River Dart to its source. After all, after seeing the Dart from the winery, it’s well worth getting to know the waters on a more local level.
Along the way, you’ll have the chance to explore small hamlets, quirky pubs, and perhaps even spot some local wildlife. Should you opt to do this, make sure to bring a map or download a map onto your phone- there’s little phone signal in the area!
Visit the historic market town of Totnes: Filled with independent eateries and quirky architecture, Totnes is easily one of the most beautiful towns in Devon. Home to lots of authentic eating experiences, as well as lots of great vintage shops, there’s even a Motte and Bailey Castle.
Greenway: The historic house of Greenway is the former house of Agatha Christie is now owned and managed by the National Trust. If you’re visiting Sharpham Wine and Cheese, then after your trip, you can easily drive down the estuary towards Dittisham.
From there, it’s easy to take the small passenger ferry across the River Dart to visit the small cottage. Open on a daily basis throughout the summer months, this former residence is decorated and filled with furnishings just as it would have been during the popular author’s time.