Captain Philemon Pownol joined the Royal Navy in 1748 and became Commander of HMS Favourite 11 years later. He was partly responsible for capturing the Spanish ship Hermione, as a result of which he received prize money which today would be worth the equivalent of many millions of pounds. With part of his bounty he bought land in South Devon along the River Dart and commissioned a house (now Grade I listed) by Sir Robert Taylor and gardens by Capability Brown. Thus was founded the Sharpham Estate.
It was purchased in 1962 by Maurice and Ruth Ash. Twenty years later they founded the Sharpham Trust as an educational charity with the Sharpham Estate as its major asset. The Estate currently has three tenant farmers, one of which is Sharpham Wine and Cheese. They produce 70 tonnes of cheese per year from a herd of 65 Jersey cows and ca. 100,000 bottles of wine per year of which ca. 15% is sparkling.
About 2 ha of vineyards were originally planted in the early 1980s with the fruit being sent to Three Choirs for vinification. Wines have been made on site since 1988, initially under the direction of Mark Sharman and since 1992 by Duncan Schwab. Vine cultivars on the now 6 ha vineyard estate include Madeleine Angevine, Phoenix, Dornfelder and Pinot Noir Precoce. They also harvest Bacchus, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from a vineyard across the River Dart.
An oddity produced at Sharpham is Beenleigh Red, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These are grown in polytunnels on a farm 5 km away which is now owned by Sharman. The grapes are harvested in late October / early November and used to produce 300-600 bottles of oak-aged wine. This is probably England's most awarded (and most expensive) red table wine, but continues to raise eyebrows amongst purists for the manner in which the grapes are grown.
Another noteworthy award-winner is the Sharpham Sparkling Reserve NV. This was a trophy winner at Bollicine Del Mondo in 2012 and won a Silver medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2013.
(Images © Sharpham)
Tel: 01803 732203
Winemaker: Duncan Schwab
Sharpham Sparkling Reserve NV
Sharpham Sparkling Pink
Sharpham Estate Selection Dry
Sharpham New Release White
Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve White
Sharpham Barrel Fermented White
Sharpham Pinot Noir & Précoce
Sharpham Summer Red
Sharpham Whole Berry Rosé