Expansion go-ahead toasted at Lyme Bay Winery

Award-winning drinks firm plans to produce up to 80,000 bottles of still and sparkling wine a year

CORKS are popping at an award winning drinks company, near Axminster, where expansion plans could lead to 10 more local jobs.

East Devon planners this week approved an application for a new production plant at the Lyme Bay Winery, at Seaton Junction.

The business, which currently employs some 30 people, is set to make its own grape wines after planting 25,000 vines on land at Cotleigh and Watchombe, near Colyton.

Members of the district council’s development management committee were told that initial production could be around 65,000 bottles of wine per year – possibly rising to 80,000.

As a result, the company intends to expand its current base onto adjoining land, with a new winery and storage/warehousing, along with extra parking.

The proposed structure will become the main production

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facility, enabling the existing building to revert to the bottling plant.

Managing director Nigel Howard said the vineyards and new production plant represented “a substantial investment”.

He said: “The vines take three years to come into production and next October will be our first crop, so timing is very important and we want to start work first thing in the new year to be ready.”

Mr Howard revealed that a blend of Pinot Noir and Sayval Blanc grapes will be used to create a sparkling wine while Bacchus grapes will produce a still, dry, white wine.

Tuesday’s planning meeting was told the proposal was a departure from the development plan as the site is within the open countryside and AONB and beyond the boundaries of the site

of the existing business.

But councillors approved the scheme after being assured they could weigh market and other economic information alongside environmental and social information, “taking full account of any longer term benefits including job creation, improved productivity and benefits of local economies”.

District councillor Ian Chubb pledged his support for the application.

He said: “It will help the thriving business that is generating income and employment in the local area.”

* Two years ago the company won a national award for its Jack Rat cider - named aftre the legendary Beer smuggler Jack Rattenbury.