A'Beckett's is a lovely 11-acre family vineyard owned by Paul and Lynn Langham. Located near Devizes, a'Beckett's is currently Wiltshire's largest vineyard. I visited Paul and Lynn in early 2017 and was so impressed by the quality of their wines we chose to stock them on the day of the visit.
Paul tells me that in 1999 he was bored of life in the corporate world. Seeing the excitement around English wine, Paul said out of the blue to his wife Lynn "We must be able to do this." That, he says, is how their journey into English wine began.
The pair spent the next two years looking for the ideal site to set up their vineyard, eventually settling on their location in the hamlet of Littleton Panell in 2001. Despite having no farming or wine-making experience, Paul and Lynn read widely, called on support from other vineyard owners and learnt from vineyard consultant Hans Schleifer.
In 2003, the Langham family produced the first vintage of a'Beckett's wine.
a'Beckett's vineyard sits on greensand over chalk soils. Well-drained, the soil provides a great plot for making fruity and fresh styles of wine, as well as being ideal conditions for sparkling wine production. The plot sits around 55-60m above sea level and is sheltered from prevailing westerly winds, a common problem in English vineyards.
In 2001, Paul and Lynn planted 5000 vines spaced at 2.3m apart. The 55 rows of vines, when stringed together, measured an impressive 5 miles! The vines are grown on a double guyot trellising system, which forms a large T or M shape. These trellises are held together by 50,000m or wire, wire tensioners and post anchors.
In 2010, the family planted another 4,300 vines, of which 1,000 were Chardonnay and 3,300 were Pinot Noir. 65% of the entire vineyard is planted with Pinot Noir. Paul's desire to make red wine is behind this, explains his wife Lynn.
Alongside the 11 acres of vines, a'Beckett's also has 6 acres of apple trees and recently planted 10 varieties of perry trees as well. This contributes to the apple juice and cider production done on site at a'Beckett's. This side venture is also a great way for the Langhams to involve locals with community pressing. They also press cider and apple juice for other orchard farms.
We're really privileged to stock a range of a'Beckett's award-winning English still and sparkling wines.
We stock the gorgeously zippy Seyval Blanc varietal Chalk Hill, ideal for the Summer sunshine, and the fresh orchard-fruit Pinot Auxerrois varietal Lynchett's, which is so juicy and welcoming it has got to be one of the most crowd-pleasing wines we've tried.
There's also the berry-full Ram's Cliff Rose, salmon-pink in colour and very approachable. Of course the really exciting wines come with the sparklers Cuvee Victor 2012 and the wonderfully mature Cuvee Victoria Rose Brut 2009.
Exclusive to the vineyard is their ever-popular red Pinot Noir and their varietal Chardonnay white wine.
Varieties planted at the vineyard include: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Auxerrois (a distant relative of Chardonnay popular in Alsace), Reichensteiner (a German grape variety developed in the 1930s known for its heavy cropping) and Seyval Blanc (a French variety developed in the 1920s regarded for its consistency as a light, zesty variety).
Image from The Independent.
a'Beckett's are eco-minded and all of their wines have been certified as free of animal products by the Vegan Society.
The Langhams have also worked with United Glass to introduce bottles that are 10% lighter to improve the carbon footprint of the distribution of their wines and ciders.
In the trade, Paul has been a prominent figure in the promotion of English wine. a'Beckett's, as a member of the UK Vineyard Association (UKVA) and Wessex Vineyard Association (WVA), Paul served as regional and national chair of the UKVA from 2012 - 2015.
Image courtesy of Somerset Advertiser; Paul Langham a'Beckett's owner.
It's really worth visiting a'Beckett's Vineyard for a tour of the place. Set in a stunning location, the Langham family regularly run tours that last approximately 1.5 hours and take in the highlights of the vineyard.
Cellar door wine tastings are also available at the Wiltshire vineyard. Please make sure you enquire in advance by visiting the a'Beckett's website.
Volunteers are welcome to visit a'Beckett's to help with the harvest. Give them a call on the number below to find out more.
Opening hours: All year, Weds - Sat, 11am - 4.30pm
Call a'Beckett's Vineyard: +44(0)1380 816669
Address: a'Beckett's Vineyard, High Street, Littleton Panel, Devizes, SN10 4EW