Sobering news as wine circle ends after 60 years - but there may be hope

Wine circle group shot

Torbay Wine Circle - Credit: Submitted

Raise your glasses one last time to the Torbay Winemakers’ Circle.

Chairman Pat Kingdon welcomed everyone to its last meeting at the Paignton Club - but then sadly confirmed it would be its final after 60 years of wine and beer making.

Pat said she was pleased to see so many members attend. She thanked the staff for the excellent meal and service before asking husband Roger to tell the members some interesting historical facts about the club.

The Circle was founded on August 16 in 1961 by Doc Evans, Gerry Whitehouse and Brian Eddy. 

Monthly meetings have been held in six different venues; in the early days there were 80 members which increased to over 100 in the 90’s.  

Pat as been on the committee the longest for 52 years!  There have been 23 Chairpersons over the years.

Five previous Chair people were at the lunch:  Pat, Joyce Rivers, Eunice Nichols, John Thomas and Les Williams.  Mary Whitehouse is the longest serving member having joined in 1963 ;  Roger and Pat follow closely behind. 

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The club has had many highlights and social events each year The circle has achieved making wine and beer a hobby in the area and several wine circles were created in the South West with competitions taking place on a regular basis.  

Vernon Whitehouse in 1970 founded the Torbay Area Festival and in the same year Torbay and Torquay Guild founded the South Devon Amateur Brewing Society which became one of the most successful beer making circles in the country; six of the members became National Judges.  Torbay Winemakers’ Circle together with Taunton and St. Austell Wine Circles founded the South Western Wine and Beer Federation in 1962,. The Federation still exists today with 17 affiliated Wine Circles. 

Roger thanked the many volunteers who had served on the committee over the years. 

All may not yet be lost - it was decided that members will try and keep in touch by having a two-monthly get- together at a local pub or restaurant.