James Lambert, managing director and head winemaker, Lyme Bay Winery , winemaking career found him at a young age, and as he say's 'quite by accident!
I was working part time at Broadland Drinks while I was at university and ended up ditching my degree for a trainee management job. While there I found myself in the wine labs testing 20 to 30 wines per day, and I was enrolled onto a wine appreciation course, led by Frank Leatherdale. It was Frank’s knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for wine which clarified my career path. This was quickly followed by my first WSET course and my passion for wine was set. I started atailormade role within Broadland looking after wine quality and working with various winemakers from all over the world.
In 2006 I was approached by Nigel Howard of Lyme Bay Winery. Drawn by Nigel’sambition to plant a vineyard and make still English wines I took the job and relocated to Devon.
Others had already shown that sparkling English wines of real quality could bemade, so we were confident of producing these, but we both felt that still wines had significantly more potential.
After much planning, we finally planted vineyards on two local sites in 2009 and 2010, and in 2013 we made a small batch of sparkling wine. 2014 brought a great harvest, resulting in a full range of still and sparkling wines (the latter from 2013) that we were able to bring tomarket in 2015. Our first still wines, ‘Shoreline’ – a blend of bacchus, pinot noir and seyval blanc, and a straight Bacchus, won two Decanter medals, which was rare for English still wines. We haven’t looked back since. We have since broadened our growers to include all areas from the south of England, and work with only the most ambitious, consistent and high quality growers from the best viticultural regions within the UK. As with our original ambition to change perceptions of English still wines, we continue to push boundaries. In 2020, we realised a longterm project with pinot noir and chardonnay, with the specific aim of making the best still wines the UK has ever produced. These wines will be available during 2021 and 2022, and we couldn’t be more excited to share these with the world!
Established in 1993 as the Lyme Bay Cider Co, the business has experienced continued growth and change, with the first English wines being made in 2014. Today, LBW Drinks is recognised as one of the leading English wine producers under the Lyme Bay Winery brand. Not only creating its own multi-award winning fine wines, but also working with leading supermarkets such as Aldi and Morrisons to produce exclusive label offerings. It is also known as the creator of Devon’s first spiced rum (Jack Ratt Lugger Spiced Rum) and remains the UK’s leading producer of both mead and fruit wines.The company prides itself on innovation in the drinks industry and have built a strong reputation as experts in flavour.
In a few short years they have helped to set the bar high for English still and sparkling wine, creating award-winning, internationally recognised wines. All drinks are created in Devon, with passion and commitment to the highest possible quality.
They have ambitious plans going forward to produce outstanding English still wines and aim to become one of the leading producers of English Pinot Noir. During the 2020 harvest they reported a batch of Pinot Noir with potential alcohol levels of 14.7% - a record for the UK – from the Crouch Valley region in Essex. With the first reds expected to be available in the autumn 2021, the business is very excited about the exceptional quality.