Dalwood was started in a truly British way: in a pub with a few village friends who had all had a drink. A drunken conversation about owning a winery sprouted a genuine idea of farming a vineyard an producing some English wine. The friends found a lovely location to start their vineyard - a hill overlooking the village of Axminister in East Devon. The group, which included David Dower, John Gostling, Les White, Jo and Mike Huskings, and Mick Oliver, all take part in the growing and tending of the vines. They planted their first vines of Seyval Blanc in 2009. At first there was only one acre, but this was eventually built up to three acres and 3000 vines which now includes Solaris, Madeleine Angevine, and Pinot Noir.
Aside from Pinot Noir, the grapes that they chose are not particularly well recognized, but are all suited to the harsher conditions that England sometimes has to offer. Seyval Blanc has been one of the most successful grapes in the UK and one of the most widely planted. It was introduced to British soil in the early 1950s as it was found to be resistant to low temperatures and disease, which can be quite prevalent in the UK due to the amount of wet weather. The next grape they decided to grow was Solaris. This grape is also resistant to the English weather, especially frost. This is key as it ripens early, and UK vineyards are often subject to some spring frost. It produces a very perfumed wine and can show some tropical fruit notes with occasional nuttiness. This vine can take a while to mature, but once it has, it can last for decades. Madeleine Angevine came to the UK in the late 1950s and originated from the Loire Valley. The grape is unusually very fond of cooler, wetter climates so is perfectly suited to British weather! This grape produces wines with lovely sweet citrus notes and very good acidity. And then the final grape, the world famous Pinot Noir. All these grapes were specially chosen for their resistance to English weather but also their capability of blending beautifully. When it comes to wine making,Dalwood use a winery in Somerset, called Brooks Bank. Their Brut sparkling is made using the traditional method to create similar complexities to a Champagne.
Dalwood's first vintage was in 2013 with their Brut Sparkling wine. They admit that it took a lot of patience to wait four years from when they first planted the vines. However, this was crucial to wait until the grapes were at the highest quality possible, and it paid off! They only produced 1,700 bottles in their first vintage, however it won bronze medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2015. Their next vintage was a still wine which was a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Solaris. Both wines continue to be made and have continued to be well received. With such a small and locally run vineyard they have managed to be extremely successful, holding their place in the world of English Wine.