Demystifying the snobbery that goes with wine is one of Steve Richardson’s prime aims at the Lyme Bay Winery.
He manages the Cellar Room serving customers and talking about the wines on the shelves.
‘Some people can be a bit overwhelmed and find wine inaccessible. But I like to debunk the myths. You can drink wine whenever. It is to be enjoyed and designed to make you happy,’ he says.
The selection of wines offered at Lyme Bay Winery includes white, sparkling, and red. And many have been winning prestigious awards on the international stage.
‘People are often surprised that English wine is a thing. There is still a bit of a stigma but it’s now winning gold medals.’
This year alone Lyme Bay Winery has won Gold at the Food Drink Devon awards for its Lyme Bay Shoreline 2021, and Silver for its Lyme Bay Ginger Wine. The Lyme Bay Pinot Noir 2020 is the only English still red wine to win a Trophy in the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) as well as a Gold Medal in both the IWSC and the 2022 International Wine Challenge and a Silver Medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2022.
‘I take pride when people are surprised when they try English wine and they think it’s really nice.’
While the climate in England is helping to produce great wine, Steve puts the success down to the knowledge and skill of the wine growers, the vineyard management, and the winemakers. All require great skill.
Grapes for the English wines are sourced from select growers across the country while the wines, ciders, meads, liqueurs, and spirits are fermented, blended, and aged in the winery in the Axe Valley.
Anyone who comes into the store can taste a selection of the wines on offer and Steve also runs guided tasting sessions that last about ninety minutes. Despite the small space, there is a big selection on offer. He is planning to build a more dedicated tasting room. This will be designed to provide a greater visitor experience and allow people to see more of the process.
He enjoys interacting with guests. ‘Most people who come into the winery are in a good mood so it’s a fun atmosphere. We have a lot of loyal customers who come back time and again.’ Some are local while others make an annual pilgrimage from further afield.
He takes great pride in the team he works with. ‘I love the ethos that we use the best grapes to make the best wine.’ Quality is always at the forefront which means huge amounts of wine won’t be produced for the sake of it. ‘We make what we can with the best grapes available and pay growers on ripeness, not volume.’
Having worked for 25 years at the Daily Mail in advertising, Steve’s initial experience was with consuming and enjoying wine. After a move back to Devon he worked first at River Cottage for two years as a front-of-house manager before joining Lyme Bay Winery.
When not working you can find Steve out walking and running on trails, beaches, and woodland around East Devon. ‘You can’t beat going home from work, picking up the dogs, and walking in the woods or along the beach. And the only traffic jam you get is a herd of cows.’
The Cellar Door is open every day and offers a wide range of award-winning wines, spirits, ciders, meads, and liqueurs.