VideoMid Devon vineyard growing with help of business grant

Simon and Alison Routh, Wellhayes Vineyard

Posted on: 13 February 2017

A Mid Devon vineyard has been awarded a grant to help grow its business.

Wellhayes Vineyard, in Clayhanger, near Tiverton, is among the latest small businesses in the Mid and East Devon area to benefit from LEADER REAL Devon funding.

Having produced their first sparkling wine last year, owners Simon and Alison Routh have used the grant of just over £26,000 to increase future production. The funding has enabled the business to convert a barn into a winery and tasting room, as well as purchasing more efficient production equipment.

Devon County Council is overseeing the £1.2 million LEADER REAL Devon grant, which is EU funded over the next two years, and aims to support the rural economy and create jobs. The REAL Devon Local Action Group covers the majority of Mid Devon and seven East Devon parishes (Brampford Speke, Huxham, Nether Exe, Poltimore, Rewe, Stoke Canon and Upton Pyne).

Simon and Alison planted their first 150 vines in 2008 to test the suitability of the soil on their land. In 2011, they planted more to establish a total of 2,500 vines.

Wellhayes Vineyard’s first full harvest was in 2014, producing 3.5 tonnes of grapes to produce the company’s first 2,000 bottles of sparkling wine last September (2016). The investment from the LEADER funding is enabling the vineyard to double its capacity.

Simon Routh, co-owner of Wellhayes Vineyard, said: “Establishing the vineyard has required a long lead in time and it has taken a long time to get to where we are today. We were only able to manage one harvest every other year in our existing capacity because the production process for sparkling wine takes a minimum of two years.

“The LEADER funding has enabled us to accelerate the growth of our business and leapfrog a minimum of three years. We’ve been able to build a winery to take 4,000 bottles year, whereas it would have taken us years to get to this point. We couldn’t have a better building for coolness in summer which is important for a winery, and we can now have a vintage every year so it’s doubled our capacity.

“If you’re a small business like us that needs a capital injection to make a big difference to your productivity or your growth then the LEADER funding can be very helpful. It has been well worth it and would be for other businesses.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Economy and Growth, said: “Congratulations to Wellhayes Vineyard on successfully applying for LEADER REAL Devon funding. It’s a perfect example of the impact this funding can have in helping a business to grow.”

Councillor Richard Chesterton, Mid Devon District Council’s Deputy Leader and Chair of the REAL Devon Local Action Group, said: “I’m pleased that the LEADER REAL Devon funding has been able to assist Wellhayes Vineyard in its ongoing development. Other businesses in our local rural communities can also benefit from the programme and they should look into the scheme to find out how.”

The LEADER grants programme aims to:

• increase farm productivity;
• support micro and small businesses and farm diversification;
• boost rural tourism;
• provide rural services;
• provide cultural and heritage activities; and
• increase forestry productivity.

The scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) run by DEFRA and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

To find out more about the funding programme visit the Local Action Group website at

Posted in: Business and Economy