ROGER White has a bee in his bonnet. Despite English sparkling wines – and Devon wines at that – forging a reputation for themselves on an international scale, the organiser of Devon Wine Week says they're not being given the attention they deserve on home soil.
Devon Wine Week, which runs alongside English Wine Week (starting today until Sunday, June 2), is a celebration of what producers on our doorstep are creating.
"There are more and more vineyards across Devon," says the 54-year-old, who has run Yearlstone Vineyard at Bickleigh near Tiverton with his wife Juliet since 1997.
"There are around 50 now, and this number is rising rapidly. So the event is a way of crystallising what's going on into one week and raising awareness of what's happening around us."
Roger this year is ensuring that Devon wines become entrenched in the food culture here and are served in our pubs and restaurants. "There is much more awareness about what's being offered on our doorstep than five or ten years ago," he continues. "But it's still not as widely appreciated as it should be, especially when you look at our international success."
The prowess of English sparkling wines, in particular, was recently recognised at the prestigious Lyon International Wine Festival, and by Decanter Magazine which named Yearlstone, Pebblebed and Sharpham in its top 25 producers.
Yearlstone's Vintage Brut 2009 won a bronze medal, which makes Roger proud, as it was not only the first French wine competition he's entered, but two thirds of the French entries failed to win anything. This recognition follows on from another significant credit which came in December 2011, when France's leading wine magazine, La Revue du Vin rated Yearlstone's 2006 Vintage Brut the fourth best sparkling wine from England.
"These are the experts saying great things about our wines," Roger said. "But when you look at the stockists, you're not seeing as many English wines – I don't know why.
"You expect to go from the ground up, so local awareness turning into national and then international awareness. But it seems to be working in reverse, it seems when English wines have got international and national recognition, then it will be stocked locally.