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Michael Caines’ Lympstone Manor to plant vineyard in April

Michelin-starred country house hotel and restaurant Lympstone Manor, owned by chef Michael Caines, is to plant a vineyard within its 28-acre estate on the east Devon Exe estuary this April.

Image: Lympstone Manor, credit: Mark Ashbee

The Lympstone Manor team has announced that it will be planting 18,000 vines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) on its estate next month to mark its one-year anniversary.

The site, which is southwest facing and beside the estuary, will be managed by the new vineyard and grounds manager and Plumpton College graduate, James Matyear.

The vines will be used to produce “classic Champagne-method sparkling wines,” that will be served to Lympstone Manor guests, according to the statement.

Owner and chef Michael Caines commented, “From the first time I viewed the property in July 2014, my intention was to establish a vineyard on the site. The great vineyards of Europe are all located on rivers, the Médoc châteaux of Bordeaux on the Gironde, wine estates along Rhône, Loire, and Rhine rivers, the great port vineyards of the Douro. Why not the Exe estuary?

“Our climate is mild, and the success of other local vineyards has convinced me that it will be possible to produce outstanding wines here. Wine is a huge passion of mine and is an integral part of what we offer at the hotel, so I can’t wait to share our very own Lympstone Manor Cuvée with my customers”.

Michael Caines MBE.

Matyear, who studied viticulture at Plumpton before cutting his teeth at Hampshire winery Hattingley Valley, will be assisted by Caines and operations director, Steve Edwards.

The first vintage of Lympstone Manor Cuvée will be released in 2023, with the team also stating that they intend to also produce still wines in the future.

Matyear added: “To think that alongside our already impressive list of wines at Lympstone Manor, in a few short years we will also have single estate examples made from grapes sourced within our own vineyard is both exciting and remarkable”.

Lympstone is already a restaurant geared towards the enjoyment of wine. It boasts two basement cellars with 600 bins and a wine tasting and dispensing room, which itself houses wine storage cabinets and a 24-bottle WineEmotion dispenser. The restaurant also has a ‘sommelier’s table’ where small groups can book a personalised wine tasting experience hosted by head sommelier, Marko Mägi.

It doesn’t stop there. Lympstone is planning a series of events and dinners, the first of which allows guests to help with planting the vineyard itself.

The ‘Festival of Vine Planting’ due to be held from 26 April to 28 April includes a three-night stay at Lympstone, a tour of the vineyard plus the chance to plant a vine, a picnic lunch at the vineyard, a tour and tasting at nearby Lyme Bay Winery, and finally a gala dinner at Lympstone hosted by Lyme Bay’s head winemaker, Liam Idzikowski.

The restaurant also intends to host an annual wine harvest festival from 2020.

Lympstone Manor, a Grade II listed Georgian mansion, opened in April 2017, and under the stewardship of former Gidleigh Park head chef Michael Caines MBE, it was restored and transformed into a 21-room hotel boasting a 60-seater fine dining restaurant.

It becomes the latest wine producer based in Devon, joining existing wineries such as Lyme Bay, Sharpham and Pebblebed.

Once released, the wine will be available for guests to purchase and consume during their stay. There will also be a section in the hotel reception devoted to retail sales. Ultimately the team hopes to have Lympstone wine stocked in independent retailers too.

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