Vines produce first red wine
FOR most people, tending an allotment would be a full-time hobby, but a Budleigh Salterton couple have taken on a labour of love, tending their vineyard.
FOR most people, tending an allotment would be a full-time hobby, but a Budleigh Salterton couple have taken on a labour of love, tending their vineyard.After five years of carefully nurturing their vines - staving off rabbits, mildew, bud-killing wet and cold weather - the fruits of Alan and Faye Pratt's labours are about to pay off, because the couple are to sell their first wine.Mr and Mrs Pratt, both 55, from Moormead, will showcase their red table wine on May 25, to coincide with Devon Wine Week - which is part of English Wine Week.Throughout the day, from 10.30am-5pm, at Lily Farm, in Dalditch Lane, Knowle, there will be the chance to sample and buy the Budleigh-grown wine.There will also be guided and self-guided tours around the sloping vineyard.The couple's crop caused nationwide amazement in 2007 when their grapes were ready for harvesting a month before anywhere else in the UK.They were unaware of the phenomenon until Mr Pratt posted the news on the UK Vineyard Association web forum and received a flurry of emails from stunned growers. Mr Pratt, whose interest in grape growing was borne out of curiosity, while his wife showed her sheep at agricultural shows, said: "It is hugely labour intensive. People have said it's nice to know where their wine has come from."We don't know how it's going to develop over the years because of the climate change."Part-time financial advisor Mr Pratt and part-time nurse Mrs Pratt started the vineyard with 200 rondo vines in April 2005.A further 200 vines were planted in April 2007. Last May, the couple planted 950 extra vines, enabling them to produce white, rose, sparkling and red wine.The pair had to wait three years before they could harvest their first crop - and, finally, their patience paid off in September 2007.Now they have 200 bottles of red wine to sell.Picking the crops is an exact science - grapes harvested too early are too acidic to make wine.Entry to the open day is �2, in aid of Hospiscare. Places and parking is limited, so booking is essential.To book your visit, contact Mr and Mrs Pratt on (01395)