It’s the most exciting new arrival on the South West’s vibrant food and drink scene for years: a wine school determined to make learning about the subject fun and enjoyable, for enthusiasts of all levels.  South West Wine School – which throws open its doors at Dartmouth Food Festival on Saturday 20th October – has been founded by Jonathan and Hayley Reynolds and is being supported by some of the biggest wine names in the region, including Susy Atkins, Liam Steevenson MW and Rebecca Mitchell DipWSET.

Co-founder Jonathan Reynolds says:

“South West Wine School will offer an exciting range of events and courses, whether you’d like to learn about wine one-to-one, as part of a group, to gain a professional WSET qualification or as an innovative corporate activity.”

The timing of the launch could not be better.  Commenting on this, Hayley says:

“We are living through what has been described as the ‘West Country Renaissance’, as entrepreneurs, start-ups and tech companies flock to Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, attracted by the space, accessibility and enviable lifestyle on offer.  Food and drink have always been an important draw to the region, but now producers and restaurateurs find themselves at the very heart of what’s happening.”

Following the launch at Dartmouth Food Festival, there will be a ‘Wise up on Wine’ Christmas event at Southernhay House in Exeter on Wednesday 5th December (6 – 8pm), a Valentine’s Day ‘Speed Tasting’ at Kingston Estate near Staverton (7pm onwards) and a ‘First of the Summer Wine’ evening at the Deer Park Country House near Honiton.  From January 2019 onwards, WSET level 1 and 2 courses will be held at Kenton Park Estate and Vineyard.

A series of shorter, fun and informal tastings will also take place regularly throughout the South West region with local wine experts and winemakers, visit for details.


For anyone interested in deepening his or her knowledge and understanding of wine, South West Wine School ticks every box.  For centuries the region has been a major importer of wines from France, Italy and beyond. Its flourishing hospitality scene attracts sophisticated clienteles from all over the world, with wine lists to match.  Even more important, the local map is now pinned with vineyards, which include Sharpham, Lyme Bay Winery, Langham Wine Estate, Knightor and, most recently, Kenton Park Estate, to mention just a few.  These not only fly the flag for English wine, but scoop top international awards.  It’s the perfect backdrop for a contemporary wine school, where traditional wine appreciation skills meet the exciting reality of modern winemaking.


Wine is a complex and fascinating subject – a journey of discovery for all five senses. Unlike some areas of human endeavour, learning about wine is best conducted in a sociable environment, tasting, talking and comparing notes with like-minded enthusiasts.  South West Wine School seeks to create a friendly, relaxed and fun environment for that to happen – and has lined up a distinguished roll-call of experts to share their knowledge.

Devon-based Sunday Telegraph wine writer Susy Atkins is one of the most popular and personable figures on the national drinks scene and will be making frequent appearances on behalf of South West Wine School. 

“Just as the South West’s hospitality scene has taken off in recent years, so have people become more interested in every aspect of wine.  This is a subject that is constantly evolving, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge in a fun and relaxed environment, and best of all – right here in the South West.”

Liam Steevenson MW became the youngest Master of Wine in the world, at the age of 29.

“My father is a wine merchant,’ he says, ‘so you could say it is in my blood.  Having been born and bred in this part of the world, I am delighted to be part of South West Wine School and help expand knowledge of this eternally fascinating subject.  I particularly enjoy opening people’s minds to the wider world of wine and encouraging them to try and appreciate something new and different.  My work now takes me to New Zealand, Spain and France, where I produce wines for the Vineyard Productions portfolio. I have just returned from Nashik in India, which is certainly a name to watch in the future.”

Rebecca Mitchell DipWSET is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and a Wine Educator for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

“I have a passion for sharing my wine knowledge’ she says, ‘and the WSET courses offer a superb platform to learn about wine in a structured way.  These qualifications provide wine enthusiasts with a good understanding about major grape varieties and key wine regions of the world.”

Rebecca has been in the wine trade for over twenty years having formerly worked in global wine tourism; she is now a respected wine consultant for award-winning hospitality venues in the West of England and further afield. She is also a panel chair judge for the International Wine & Spirit Competition and a drinks columnist for Devon Life magazine.

“I’m delighted that South West Wine School have asked me to teach for them, offering the WSET courses for both wine lovers and professionals across the South West.”



South West Wine School offers the perfect solution for your next team building event: a session spent immersed in wine – learning about it, talking about it and of course sampling it.  The team building events can be tailor-made for a group of ten up to 100, for a range of budgets.  South West Wine School brings the wine, the glasses and the knowledge, and everything else is up to you.  Alternatively, if you wish to escape the office, how about the Kenton Park Estate and Vineyard, where you can sit back and relax as next year’s harvest ripens around you.


To give a taste of South West Wine School, here are just a few of the events planned for the next few months (for more info or tickets contact

Saturday 20th October 2018, 3.15pm Dartmouth Food Festival
Official launch of South West Wine School
‘Speed Tasting with the experts’, hosted by Susy Atkins (sold out)

Wednesday 5th December 2018, 6 – 8.00pm, Southernhay House in Exeter
‘Wise up on Wine’ – tasting of wines to serve over the festive season and beyond, matched with delicious canapés

Thursday 14th February 2019, 7pm onwards, Kingston Estate near Staverton
Valentine’s Day ‘Speed Tasting’
Thursday 13th June 2019, 7pm onwards Deer Park Country House
‘First of the Summer Wine’

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