Dorset wine producer beats the best French Champagne to win top international award

A wine producer in Dorset has been named as the best of its kind in the world, despite only planting vines a decade ago.

Langham Wine Estate, near Dorchester, has beaten the top Champagne houses in France to be named Best Sparkling Wine Producer at the International Wine and Spirit Competition 2020.

It is a meteoric rise for the family business, which planted its vineyard in 2009.

The land was previously used for arable farming before Justin Langham decided to "have a go" at making wine.

Every step in production of the wine at Langham takes place at its Dorset farm base Credit: ITV News West Country

He told ITV News West Country he didn't expect to have such success so early, and said: "We always wanted to try to do the best we possibly could and produce the best wine we possibly can but to be recognised by such a worldwide international competition is beyond belief.

"I never really thought we’d reach this level of attainment."

For Langham’s small team, the award justifies the huge amount of hard work and care they put in.

Head winemaker Tommy Grimshaw said he was "elated", and added: "It was an absolute shock when we first heard the news and it’s started to sink in a little bit now.

"It's quite humbling, actually. I'm very passionate about what I do and we work so hard as a team so to be recognised on this level is fantastic.

"We're quite a new industry - everyone tends to compare us to Champagne. We've got a very similar soil structure, a similar climate to what Champagne had about 30 years ago and we do nod our head towards what they're doing over there.

"But I think with English wine we're not restricted in the same way - we've got so much freedom, we can do everything we want to produce the best quality and that's what we do here at Langham."

Langham Wine Estate planted its vines in 2009 and was producing wine by 2011 Credit: ITV News West Country

Vineyard manage Oliver Whitfield said: "It shows that we’re producing good fruit that’s good enough to be made into the best sparkling wines in the world at the moment.

"I previously made wine and I felt I wanted to produce fruit that I'd be happy accepting myself and I hope that's fruit that Tommy accepts himself. If you don't have good grapes you're not going to have good wine."

Assistant winemaker Lauren Brewer said: "We’re just such a tiny producer compared to the massive Champagne houses so it just feels amazing to be able to say that we’re up amongst the greats.

"Hopefully it’ll put not only Langham and Dorset wine on the map but also UK wine production as a whole."

Unsurprisingly, after news of the award spread it had a big impact on sales.

Fiona Wright deals with sales and marketing at Langham. She said the sales skyrocketed: "It was unprecedented, through the roof and we had to call everyone in.

"We were all labelling, all packing things up and all hands on deck, really. It’s a great situation to be in and we’re lucky that we all live relatively locally and we just all jumped on it and got things done."

Langham's victory is further evidence that English wine can compete with the best in the world. The team there is determined to keep doing that.

Justin Langham said: "It does mean we’ve got to keep producing top quality wines, we can’t rest on our laurels at all. We’ve got to keep aiming to achieve the absolute best we can."

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