The Pebblebed Cellar, located in an old vaulted warehouse near Topsham Quay, is the home of Pebblebed Wines. Drop in here to discover the award-winning range of Pebblebed wines – still white, rosé and red as well as fabulous white and rosé sparkling wines produced by the classic method of secondary fermentation in the bottle. All the wines are made by Geoff Bowen and young winemaker Alex Mills from grapes grown on sunny hillside vineyards just outside of Topsham.
The Pebblebed Topsham cellar has the feel of being in a wine producer’s cave in France or a cantina in Italy as it is as once a working cellar as well as a place to meet the winemaker, taste wines, relax and enjoy. You won’t go hungry here either: talented French chef Raphael Barras is on hand to serve you simple tasting platters to accompany the wines, as well as homemade pizzas (sometimes cooked in the wood-fired oven), or, by previous arrangement, tasty plats du jour or full 3-course meals.
Geoff, an environmental consultant by profession, began growing grapes as a community project in 1999. He gathered together like-minded friends and planted a small vineyard on land owned by a friend at nearby Ebford. The wine produced proved to be excellent, so little by little he acquired more land and planted more vines. The community vineyard, shared amongst a number of Topsham families, continues today, while the commercial Pebblebed vineyard, planted in 2003, has gone from strength to strength and, with 25 acres/12 hectares under plantation, is now the largest commercial vineyards in the South West. In a good year, Geoff might produce upwards of 40,000 bottles; but such are the vagaries of growing grapes in Britain, that in a poor year the yield can be but a tenth of that.
Geoff’s original community ethos remains. Each year he opens up harvesting to any who want to come out and experience the joy and magic of picking grapes. Children are welcome, there is often a hog roast or other food, plenty of wine, too, and it has become a much anticipated annual occasion. “I want people in Topsham and Exeter to really feel that Pebblebed is their wine. Helping to pick the grapes that they’ll be drinking in a year or two is one way to experience that,” says Geoff.
Pebblebed takes its name from the East Devon pebblebed, a local geological feature that dates back to the Triassic period when turbulent river activity resulted in the laying down of deep beds of shiny, rounded pebbles, which are the underlying terroir of Geoff’s vineyards at Ebford and Clyst St George.
The Pebblebed Cellar is the place to come not only to enjoy local wines but also a selection of outstanding Italian wines such as Barbera and Barolo made by Geoff’s great friend winemaker Mario Fontana of Cascina Fontana and brought in by Vino, as well as a select range of wines supplied by Jim Kingston at Topsham Wines.
Vouchers are available for Pebblebed wine tastings.