Wined and dined at Lympstone Manor

East Devon’s luxury five-star hotel has launched vineyard tours, tasting and lunch packages over the summer, where gourmands can sample its award-winning wines and Michelin-starred food

Travel and Wellbeing 2 May 2024

When Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines stood in the grounds of Lympstone Manor, a handsome Grade II-listed hotel, he saw bags of potential (back then it was a somewhat ramshackle part-time wedding venue). Beside him was Australian-born Steve Edwards, Caines’s friend and collaborator of 30 years, who now works as vineyard and operations manager at the hotel. Edwards regales the story, as he shows me around the 11-acre vineyard the two masterminded when they took over the property in 2017, which overlooks peaceful National Trust grounds and the Exe Estuary. ‘This spot has the perfect microclimate for viniculture,’ Edwards beams. ‘The treeline is a natural protector, it’s south-west facing, there’s no frost in winter because of the estuary and great humidity in summer.’

Britain’s booming homegrown wine industry tends to be tipped towards the Kent and Sussex countryside but Lympstone Manor is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. The first vintage in 2020 happened to produce the award-winning Triassic Pinot Noir – impressive and fortuitous given that Pinot Noir is notoriously tricky to produce in Britain – as well as a Classic Cuvée. The Triassic was named Best English Red Wine at the prestigious International Wine Challenge and also won a gold medal. The 2022 Isabeau Rosé (named after Caines’s daughter) is also an award winner, having scooped silver at the London Wine Competition. This summer will see the launch of a new white wine plus a brand-new Lympstone Manor gin, with plans to bottle it up and stock it as miniatures in the hotel bedrooms. The wines are single estate and grown at Lympstone Manor using traditional (read: laborious) techniques but are bottled at nearby Lyme Bay Winery, an independent producer. ‘Provenance is so important, and it’s a very exciting time for the English wine making industry because there’s so much opportunity,’ says Edwards.

Launching this May, Lympstone Manor will be running weekly vineyard tours combined with tasting and lunch packages. This is a cut above your average wine tour, given that the food is provided by the hotel’s Michelin-starred kitchen (plus beautiful Exmouth views). The fine dining here is overseen by chef owner and chairman Michael Caines. The restaurant has five AA Rosettes and was awarded a coveted Michelin star just six months after opening in 2017. The tasting menus champion local seasonal ingredients, which are elegantly presented with optional wine tasting. The dining philosophy extends to the wine lunch menus, with dishes such as chicken liver parfait with morello cherry, port gastrique and a pistachio crunch, and parmesan and white truffle ravioli with fried quail’s eggs, wild garlic and parmesan-lavender foam. All designed, of course, to complement the accompanying wine flight. A handful of the bottles are also available for purchase at the hotel and online.

And should you decide to extend your stay in this pretty corner of east Devon, Lympstone Manor provides ample accommodation in the form of 21 sun-drenched rooms and suites alongside a collection of new Shepherd’s Huts, which expertly balance rustic and luxurious. The sleek new pool house in the hotel grounds adds a touch of glamour with a heated alfresco swimming pool and decking area that wouldn’t look out of place in an LA mansion. Alongside it is a restaurant offering poolside light bites and lunch, a tennis court and croquet lawn. Edwards talks about the near future of the hotel, with tentative plans to build a boutique spa, plunge pool, treatment rooms and gym. So long as everything remains in-keeping with the overall aesthetic and, more importantly, impeccably high standards of Lympstone Manor, of course. Exciting times, indeed.   

Lympstone Manor vineyard tours and lunch packages take place every Wednesday from May – September and are priced at £165 per person based on six people booking for one tour. Stays at Lympstone Manor start from £316 based on two people sharing;