Andrew and Sarah Pharoah at English Oak Vineyard

PUBLISHED: 10:26 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 10:33 07 September 2015

Andrew and Sarah Pharoah at their English Oak Vineyard

Andrew and Sarah Pharoah at their English Oak Vineyard

Hattie Miles 07907 645897

I’ve never cared for the Pepsi Challenge. Andrew Pharoah’s English Oak Vineyard challenge is much more my cup of bubbly.

The IT businessman’s trio of Dorset sparkling wines have all just picked up medals at Decanter’s prestigious World Wine Awards: two silvers and a bronze. Not too shabby for a consumer-turned-producer who only turned to viticulture eight years ago.

“Try our £26.99 Chinkapin rosé and drink it alongside a £30 Champagne,” he says. “Moët & Chandon, say. Compare the nose, the flavour and the length. There is no doubt. At that price point, ours is a far superior product.”

Andrew, 57, bought the lush 23-acre site - an old dairy farm in Lytchett Matravers - with his wife Sarah, 51, after a chance meeting with a Cypriot winemaker.

“I retired when I was 47,” he says, “and moved to Cyprus. But we soon got bored. Then we discovered this marvellous local red wine, a Nikolettino that you could only buy from a tiny vineyard up in the mountains.

“As we staggered out with cases under our arms, we said: ‘This would be a wonderful thing to do in England.’ So that’s what we did.”

Setting up cost £2million and the couple has yet to break even but it can only be a matter of time. Self-taught, they are passionately knowledgeable and now - with the help of a master winemaker - sell 10,000 award-winning bottles a year.

“This business is all about lifestyle,” says Andrew. “We fall out of bed into a vineyard. And that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?”

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