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Tonic Wine

Tonic Wine


The recipe for the Tonic wine is attributed to the original French monks who settled at the Abbey in the 1880's. Base wines from Spain, known as mistellas, were imported and to these were added the tonic ingredients according to an old recipe.

By the 1920s 1400 bottles were sold annually, 500 from Buckfast and the remainder by post. In 1927 a London wine merchant was visiting the Abbey, and in conversation with the Abbot, Anscar Vonier, it was decided that the monks would continue to make the Tonic wine with the distribution and sale to be carried out by a separate marketing company. In order to broaden its appeal the Tonic was changed slightly from a rather severe patent medicine to a smoother, more mature medicated wine.

Having taken on the marketing of "Buckfast" the distributing company adopted a reserved promotional approach resulting in the widespread appreciation of the product nationally and internationally.

In modern times it continues to be made at Buckfast Abbey along the same lines and according to the same basic recipe as used in the very early days. The main challenge of production lies in the successful addition of inert substances to a base wine - a living and natural entity.

The selection of the base wine is thus of prime importance. Today the base mistellas come from France, and provide the ideal medium for the skill and expertise of the monks to produce a Tonic with a smooth, rounded taste.

New Tonic Factory

Buckfast Abbey Tonic wine has been produced at the Abbey, ever since the French monks who re-established the Benedictine community in the 19th century, invented the drink as a “pick-me-up”.

But with markets opening up as far afield as the Irish Republic and the Bahamas, the Abbey was faced with the challenge of where to locate new and more spacious facilities that were needed, not only for the efficient production of the wine but also to accommodate large delivery trucks coming and going.

A field in the Dartmoor National Park opposite the Abbey was identified as ideal but planning permission was conditional on the proposed buildings blending in with the countryside.

The Abbey did just that and an inconspicuous low-lying building with a grass roof was designed and built. The site has a wide entrance for tankers and also incorporates four reception vats, each holding a capacity of 130,000 litres of wine. These were sunk deep into the ground during installation (pictured below right). Things have certainly moved on from the day when the monks would load their barrels and bottles on to the backs of carts.

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St Mary's Catholic School new 'Well-being' Garden, blessed by Fr Francis

The Well-being Garden was blessed by Father Francis Superior of the Abbey Monastery, the garden was designed & built by the abbey garden department. The idea was to provide an area of peace and stillness in a busy school day.



Oaks and Acorns

Please note that the session on the 18th June has been cancelled. Apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause. Buckfast Abbey is 'branching' out with a series of sessions for grandparents and toddlers. 10:30am to 12pm £2.50 per child (for children aged 2-5) - Grandparents FREE! (only pay for childrens tickets during booking) Book is essential
Book now or call 01364 645517 to reserve your space and pay on the day. 'Oaks and Acorns' makes the most of the glorious setting and great facilities on offer at the Abbey and makes for a fun filled morning for the young and young at heart alike. With the hands on help of our experienced Education team, toddlers and grandparents will have the opportunity to get stuck into a wide variety of activities from getting their fingers green in the gardens, to exploring shape and colour through the windows and artwork on show in the Abbey Church. Each session involves storytelling, exploration, messy making and much more.

Run to the Son 2019

Run to The Son, event for Prayer and Mission Sat 22nd & Sun 23rd Bookings are closed for the full weekend, we are now offering a day rate to include workshops through the Saturday afternoon, BBQ supper, all night prayer vigil and a dawn Mass with Bishop Mark.

Peter’s Creative Floristry June 2019

June Wed 26th 2.30pm Peter’s Creative Floristry. Techniques for making hand posies. There will be a demonstration and the opportunity to create your own posy. Includes wrapping materials. £15 pp