AN OPEN Day was held at a wine estate to help promote local food and drink producers.

Langham Wine Estate hosted the event, which showcased sparkling wine, sizzling beef sirloin and scrumptious cheese.

The day was held for members of the Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England at the Langham Wine Estate near Dorchester earlier this month.

Dorset CPRE also launched a new initiative to promote local food and drink producers. This follows on from a campaign to help village shops face the relentless onslaught from supermarkets.

It sponsors a class, Best Village Shop, in the Best Dorset Village Competition run by Dorset Community Action.

It also organised a retailing seminar for local shopkeepers. Dorset CPRE strongly believes too in supporting farmers, especially the more environmentally responsible ones, at a time when the whole question of farm subsidies is up for debate given Brexit.

More than 90 CPRE members and others attended the Open Day and went on a vineyard and winery tour. They had the chance to sample some of Justin Langham’s award-winning English sparkling wines, as well as the produce from various local Dorset food makers.

This included succulent beef and other meat from the Brace of Butchers in Poundbury, marvellous Blue Vinny cheese and chutneys from Dorset Blue, as well as cheese from Ford Farm, the biggest producer of Traditional West Country Farmhouse Cheddar in the UK.

All three have won many prizes for their products too. Members also enjoyed the buffet lunch provided by Helen Furness Catering from Cerne Abbas.

Langham Wine Estate welcomes visitors on certain days for tours and tastings, with a brand new kitchen recently opened. Justin says: “We want more people to discover and enjoy our wines, and learn how we produce world-classing sparkling wine in the heart of Dorset."

Rupert Hardy from Dorset CPRE writes about local foods and their makers, but he also wants to highlight some of the problems local quality food and wine producers experience.

He has flagged up distribution and what he says is the reluctance of supermarkets to stock local products or give them a reasonable profit margin.

He is also concerned about the speed of many catering outlets to highlight the provenance of their raw materials on menus, poor promotion of Farmers’ markets, and as the burden of 'red tape'. Dorset CPRE hopes the cheaper pound should be already benefitting local foods, which are available at farmers’ markets, independent farm and village shops, and online, as well as some supermarkets.