A wine estate near Dorchester is forging a name for itself as a local neighbourhood vineyard offering delicious food and wine experiences - just 10 minutes away from the daily grind. Joanna Davis reports.

When we fantasise about heading into 'wine country', it's normally perceived as a jaunt down country roads too far away to be a spontaneous outing.

And then there's the planning and the arguing - or debate - over who should be the designated driver.

But Langham Wine Estate, at Crawthorne Farm, near Dorchester, is a 10 minute car ride from Dorchester town centre on the Blandford road - and an easy taxi ride to avoid that designated driver argument, sorry, debate.

The winery - which attracted 10,000 visitors in the last year - has made great strides in recent months to further enhance its visitor experience.

It now offers self-guided tours and tastings or guided tours and tastings, plus private bespoke tours for groups of 15 or more people.

New café the Hare & Bramble was launched in January, run by chef Declan Chubb, who is passionate about using seasonal food and local ingredients.

The Hare & Bramble is located in an old milking parlour on the estate, which dates back to the 19th century and enjoys views of the vineyard and winery.

The eatery, which is open throughout the day for breakfast and lunch and on select evenings for Friday Fizz Nights, offers small plates, featuring in season produce which marries with the estate's wine.

Declan, himself born and bred in the county, said: "We want to showcase Dorset produce and we're trying to get all our produce from Dorset-based producers. I get really passionate about food and can talk about food all day long.

"We've had good feedback from the small plate concept. We aim to enhance the dining experience and serve great food with great wine.

"We offer the flexibility of people being able to have a light lunch or an indulgent lunch.

"We want to educate people about seasonality, for example even though asparagus came through early this year, we are always telling people it's important to wait for the ideal time when you're going to get the better produce. We want to use things when they're at their best."

Among the popular small plates served by Declan and his team is beef rib, raw slaw and Asian broth. Also on the menu is pork belly, apple and puffed skin and crab, watercress and chorizo. There is a big emphasis on vegetarian food, with a cauliflower, cashew and capers dish proving popular with non-vegetarians, Declan says.

The Hare & Bramble has a rustic feel to it, with an original floor feature and upcycled furniture, including an old church pew.

Declan said: "People have been saying how relaxed and chilled out they feel in the space.

"We want people to sit and relax and enjoy views of the vineyard, especially at the weekend. If they come at midday and they're still here at 3.30pm that's a good thing. We want people to linger over a lazy lunch."

And although Declan and his team Poppy and Kate want to shout about the unique ambience at the Hare & Bramble, they don't want to shout too loudly, he says.

"Since I started working here and talking to our visitors so many of them have told me they'd driven past on many an occasion, have thought about coming here but it took them a while before they did.

"At the moment we like that sense of a being a bit of a hidden gem because that's how people feel about it when they get here. As much as we want to see more and more people here we are still going to retain that sense of it being a hidden gem."

*Langham Wine Estate, Crawthorne, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 7NG. Tasting Room and Hare & Bramble open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm until the end of June and from July to September, Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

T: 01258 839095 E: info@langhamwine.co.uk Panel - Please panel this bit out Langham Wine Estate makes terroir-driven sparkling wines using grapes only grown in its Dorset vineyard.

The land, once used for farming, was originally established by John Langham on a very small scale. In 2009 John’s son, Justin Langham, decided to develop his father’s rudimental vineyard into a commercial venture, and planted 30 acres of land at their Crawthorne farm.

With a south-facing aspect, chalk soils and a unique microclimate, Crawthorne vineyard provides the perfect terroir for ripening the classic Champagne varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot meunier. Established hedgerows provide natural wind breaks and habitat for a large variety of beneficial organisms.

The traditional method is used to produce the sparkle. Each bottle is aged on yeast lees for a minimum of 18 months before being disgorged and aged further under cork.

Last year Langham won South West Wine of the Year for its Classic Cuvée Reserve Magnum 2011 at the South West Vineyards Association's annual competition. Langham also scooped two gold medals for its Sparkling Rosé – Rosé NV and for its Blanc de Noir 2013.

The wine estate is keen to forge partnerships in its community and recently sponsored Dorchester Literary Festival. This year it is backing Music at St Giles - a series of concerts at Wimborne St Giles with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.