A WINEMAKER from west Dorset has enjoyed a royal celebration to mark 50 years of the British wine industry.

Furleigh Estate’s winemaker Ian Edwards, based in Salway Ash near Bridport, had the honour of meeting the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House last week.

The gathering at Clarence House included British wine producers and wine critics, and was to mark 50 years of the UK Vineyard Association (UKVA), of which The Duchess is president of.

The gathering celebrated the success of English wine, whose sparkling wines have seen a meteoric rise in international success over the past decade and a sizable growth in sales and export.

Mr Edwards said: “The popularity of English sparkling wine just keeps on growing, and at Furleigh we are delighted to see our wine, which is made from 100 per cent Dorset grown-grapes, being enjoyed all over the world."

One of Furleigh's biggest importers is Denmark. The wine estate's sparkling wines are also stocked at the World Duty Free stores at Gatwick, Heathrow and Eurotunnel.

Furleigh Estate is owned and run by Ian Edwards and Rebecca Hansford. Ian is a graduate of the Wine Studies course at Plumpton College. The estate is very much a family business with Furleigh being Rebecca’s childhood home. The family farm was sold by Rebecca’s father in the 1990s and then miraculously came up for sale in 2004, when Rebecca and Ian were looking for a new home for their young family.

The vineyard today has 55,000 vines growing on three sites. Varieties are mostly the Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but there is also some Bacchus and Rondo for the Furleigh still wines.

The average annual production of the estate is around 40,000 bottles of quality sparkling wine and 10,000 of still wines, red, white and rose.

Furleigh Estate’s Cellar Door is open Monday to Saturday 11 to 5pm, and wine tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays.