We, Iain and Jane Awty, moved with our three small children from a typical West Hampstead life in London to Oatley in 1985, to fulfill a dream and plant a vineyard.We spent a year searching southern England for a really good vineyard site and finally found it in Jane's home county of Somerset. We have just celebrated our 25th vintage, our now-grown-up children coming back with their partners to help.
Once we had found our site in Somerset, we were lucky to have had advice from some of the grand old men and women of the English wine industry based close to us, Colin Gillespie of Wootton Vineyard who made our early wines, Jim Dowling of Pilton Manor, Martin Cursham of Staplecombe who also made some of our small-scale wines in the early days and Gillian Pearkes of Yearlstone in Devon. Gillian supplied the stock for our Madeleine Angevine grapes.
Our sandstone farmhouse was built in the 1600s and was thatched until 1916. Now tiled, it stands alone in the shallow basin of land formed between 3 low hills, Swang, Horn Hill and Bower Hill. But Oatley was a hamlet in the 1400s with three farms and several cottages in that basin. Although Wilhayes field, where the vineyard is, was beef pasture when Stuart sold us the farmhouse, traditional buildings and three fields in 1985, his father had grown early peas on it in the mid 20th C. for Covent Garden market, where the earliest peas got a premium in the days before frozen peas. Then Wilhayes was known to be the earliest field in the area. We are told its rounded corners and species-diverse banked hedges indicate that it is very old, cleared from the original woodland rather than enclosed later from open land.
|Particular days||Open for tours, tasting and sales by appointment. Open Fridays and Saturdays 11am-6pm Easter to September|
Madeleine Angevine. Light, crisp: pear and melon palate with a hint of elderflower and a zingy grapefruit finish. A wine for a summer garden, a party, or just on its own
English rose-garden, dry Riesling style.