One sunny Sunday my partner Matthew and I went out for a drive to Watchet and Dunster both very pretty places and I would highly recommend a visit. On our drive just outside Bridgwater heading south towards Cannington we saw a small white wooden sign advertising a vineyard. We decided to pop in on our way home later that day as we felt 9.30 on a Sunday morning wasn’t the best time to pop to a vineyard, it was a bit early even for us.
On our return I thought we had missed the sign and the turning, but as good fortune had it we had not. We drove down a road that got smaller, more over grown and bumpy with no way to turn round we had no option than to keep driving forward and hope. The road eventually opened up to a an idyllic country home a garden with a gazebo and tables and chairs and just behind the gazebo there were row upon row of vines. I felt as though I was trespassing but my fear was lifted as a friendly face came to meet us as we got out the car. The gentleman welcomed us and introduced himself as Iain the owner of Oatley Vineyard. No sooner as we got out the car we were sat down with a glass of wine in hand. Now that’s service.
While we sat there Iain told us about the vineyard the wines and how he named the wine after his wife after one particular harvest. Just before the harvest Iain put his foot in badger hole resulting in a broken foot. Jane then single handedly harvested the grapes and for a surprise Iain named the wine Jane’s. Jane is now used to her new found fame!
Oatley vineyard was establish in 1986 and they chose two grape varieties to grow, the early ripening Madeleine Angevine makes Jane’s which is fresh fragrant, light and great for summer drinking. The Kernling late ripening grapes produce Leonora’s which is fruit driven with a hint of spice and when matured it develops in to honey herbal notes which is no surprise when you find out its first cross was with the Riesling grape. Oatlley also produce a sparkling wine but because it is so popular they had none to offer as it was sold out.
The unique thing with Oatley is that they won’t sell through shops, not even Harrods. Iain said that he likes to speak to his customers personally so that he can tell them about the wine, how it was made and the story of that particular harvest. After our rest under the gazebo listening to the story of Oatlley and admiring the many certificates from awarding bodies such as Decanter and the International Wine Challenge. We then ambled through the vineyard surveying the many vines and shown that the two grape varieties need different ways of pruning and the important influence of climate, soil and topography.
The talk, the wine and tour of the vineyard was exquisite, Iain was great to listen to and over 20 years on you can still feel the passion Iain has as if it was his first harvest. Oatley vineyard is a hidden gem tucked away near the Quantock hills. Please check out their vineyard online www.oatleyvineyard.co.uk. Iain and his wife Jane aren’t always about so you may need to phone to book a visit or if your driving past that way look out for a little wooden sign to see if they are open.
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