District Civic Days have a different feel about them because of course they are covering a district rather than a specific town. So there’s often a bit of travelling around to various interesting sites. So I was intrigued with West Dorset District Council’s itinerary since it included a beautiful historic site – Athelhampton House and a Vineyard. What a contrast and so typical of Dorset, so many wonderful and varied places of beauty and interest.
We met at the WDDC offices (wonder what will become of them after Local Government Reform) for teas and coffees and then there was a coach trip out to Athelhampton House – a place I’ve never been to before. It is quite special and still a private family home which has changed hands many times over the years. The gardens are amazing (a few artists could be spotted among the fountains and sculptured topiary. They also have a bar and cafe next to their gift shop. It’s not too far from us, I’d recommend a visit and of course the entrance fee does help them keep the house in order for future generations.
After a lovely lunch there, we headed off to Langhams Vineyard. I had been a good few years ago and it’s changed quite a bit as it’s grown and become more successful. We had a tour of the grounds, including out in the fields next to the vines, a talk of how the wine is made and then shown the actual equipment they use. I first thought I could pop home and put my grapes to good use but by the end of the talk, I realised that it was more complicated than I thought so may not be able to pull it off after all (although I may ask Youtube for a bit of help – this year’s fabulous summer has meant I have lots of grapes growing and I’m not sure what to do with them)!!
The best bit of this particular tour (yes you guessed), was a touch of wine tasting at the end. We sampled 3 different varieties of what they produce and of course it’s all there to buy if you’re tempted. One interesting point I took away was how vineyards in the UK are growing in number incredibly quickly. Even the French are buying land over here in order to start vineyards – so there must be something good going on with our weather/climate/soil etc.! They told us that 2017 was their best year yet and it takes 3 years to get from grape to shelf, so watch out in 2020 for some great vintage from Langhams!
An interesting day that ended with a few bottles coming home in our boot and us appreciating what a beautiful county we live in!