Viva la Vino
The term ‘English wine’ used to be something that not many took seriously. Now, however, English wine is award winning, renowned, and starting to take the world by storm when it comes to wines, whether sparkling or still.
Sussex winemaking is playing its part in this revolution, converting the uninitiated into realising that English wine is really something rather special. British wine writer Oz Clarke has said that Sussex wine holds a particular place in his heart (or perhaps taste buds). All this is due to the fantastic soil in the area, which is similar to that in Champagne, France – and we all know what happened there!
There are over 140 vineyards in South East England, and though we’d love to list them all, here’s a selection of our favourites in Sussex.
Bluebell Vineyard Estate
Glenmore Farm, Sliders Lane, Furners Green, East Sussex TN22 3RU
www.bluebellvineyard.co.uk / 01825 791561
The exceptional handcrafted wines at Bluebell Vineyard are made using the méthode traditionelle, which is also how the famous Champagne region winemakers work. The results speak for themselves with a taste to savour being created. Although not open to the general public, private tours and wine tastings can be arranged.
Gay Street, Nr Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 2HH
www.nutbournevineyards.com / 01798 815196
Nutbourne produces a range of aromatic and fruity white and rosé wines, and a sparkling wine – Nutty – made by the traditional Champagne method. Nutbourne Vineyards were first planted in 1980 and there are now 26 acres of vines in production, growing six different types of grape, producing over 30,000 bottles per year.
Bolney Wine Estate
Foxhole Lane, Bolney, West Sussex RH17 5NB
www.bolneywineestate.com / 01444 881 575
From just three acres of vineyards back in 1972 to 39 acres today, Bolney Wine Estate has grown and been nurtured by owners Janet and Rodney Pratt, much like the vines themselves. The red, white, and sparkling wines produced here are of the highest quality, with the red wine being a particular speciality of this beautifully positioned vineyard.
Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard
Hawkhurst Road, Cripps Corner, Robertsbridge, East Sussex TN32 5SA
www.englishorganicwine.co.uk / 01580 830715
In 2010, Sedlescombe became the first vineyard to release ‘Biodynamic’ English wine – a system of agriculture which is 100% organic, and also incorporates lunar and cosmic rhythms into the timing of the processes to benefit both the soil and plants. The extensive award-winning range comprises whites, rosé, red and sparkling wines – all Soil Association certified organic and registered with the Vegan Society. The vineyard attracts some 5,000 visitors per year, and produces 30,000 bottles of English wine annually.
Court Garden Vineyard
Orchard Lane, Ditchling, East Sussex BN6 8TH
www.courtgarden.com / 01273 844 479
This family-run, single estate vineyard is in an enviable location, with the South Downs as a backdrop and situated on a south facing slope, meaning that the wines produced here are of outstanding quality and taste. This is proven by the fact that these wine makers have garnered a number of awards for their products, including gold at the International Wine Challenge.
Limney Farm, Castle Hill, Rotherfield, East Sussex TN6 3RR
www.davenportvineyards.co.uk / 01892 852380
Davenport Vineyards has been making wines for over 20 years, building up to a total of 20 acres. They produce a delicious selection of organic wines including white, red and sparkling. The 2009 vintage Limney Estate sparkling wine won the Gore-Browne Trophy for Wine of the Year 2014 – a testament to the love and effort that goes into every bottle.
Church Road, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 1RJ
www.hennersvineyard.co.uk / 01323 831746
Lawrence Warr had a dream to become the finest sparkling wine maker in Sussex – and he is well on his way to becoming just that. The multi-vintage prestige cuvees that are produced at Henners at complex in taste and ideal for when you want something a little different, and a little special. The vineyard is not open to the public unless by prior arrangement.
Gay Street, West Chiltington, West Sussex RH20 2HH
www.nyetimber.com / 01798 813989
Nyetimber Vineyard has everything going for it; location, knowledge, and passion. When it comes to making wine, these three things are the perfect triumvirate. It’s little wonder, then, that the wines from Nyetimber are amongst the very top of English wine. The vineyards are devoted exclusively to the three Champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir.
Ridgeview Wine Estate
Fragbarrow Lane, Ditchling Common, East Sussex BN6 8TP
www.ridgeview.co.uk / 01444 241441
Close to the busy towns of Brighton and Hove, yet tucked neatly away in the Sussex countryside, Ridgeview Wine Estate produces exceptional quality wines. It is the cool English nights along with a semi-continental climate that creates such perfect products, according to the owners of Ridgeview. And it makes sense – after all, Champagne itself is only 88 miles from this vineyard.
Stopham, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 1EE
www.stophamvineyard.co.uk / 01796 865666
The Stopham Vineyard is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and is part of the South Downs National Park, so you can be sure that any wine coming from Stopham has to be something special – just look at where the vines are grown. Stopham offers Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Rosé, and Brut Prestige, and you can even join in on a vineyard and winery tour, and sample the wines.
Upperton Farm, Tillington, West Sussex GU28 0RD
www.uppertonvineyards.co.uk / 01798 343695
Upperton takes pride in producing high-quality wines using traditional sparkling wine methods. The family-run wine business started with just 800 vines in 2005, and has grown to a vineyard of 32,000 vines. They offer four unique sparkling wines, including Alia, Aurora, Erubesco and Nebula; and also offer a variety of events throughout the year including their fabulous British Cheese and Wine Evenings.
Wiston Estate Vineyard
Findon, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 0RW
www.wistonestate.com / 01903 812129
The Wiston Estate Vineyard uses traditional methods to grow their vines and produce their wines. No herbicides are sprayed on the soil, for example, and a “boisselet” (mechanical hoe) is used to remove weeds. This allows the unique microbiology of the Sussex soil to get to work, giving the grapes a definite and memorable taste. There are excellent vintage and non-vintage sparkling wines available.
Shaves Wood Lane, Albourne, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9DX
www.albourneestate.co.uk / 01273 832341
Albourne Estate has 40,000 vines planted on south facing 26 acres, so it’s no wonder that they are able to produce some stunning wines. Whether still or sparkling, you know you will receive an exceptional quality wine from these producers.
Breaky Bottom Vineyard
Rodmell, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3EX
www.breakybottom.co.uk / 01273 476427
Breaky Bottom may be a small scale family-run operation, but that doesn’t mean it can’t compete with its bigger rivals in the county, and the country. By staying small and concentrating on creating truly worthy wines (such as its Sparkling Brut 2010 – Seyval Blanc and Sparkling Brut 2008 – Chardonnay/Pinot) Breaky Bottom is guaranteed to be a winemaker to reckon with.
Carr Taylor Vineyard
Wheel Lane, Westfield, Hastings, East Sussex TN35 4SG
www.carr-taylor.co.uk / 01424 752501
Carr Taylor was one of the first commercial vineyards in the country, and the owners understood at once just how good English wines could be due to the combination of an ideal climate and excellent soil in the area. Winemaker Alex Carr Taylor grew up with the vines – his parents planted them – and he has won awards for his creations. The vines are looked after individually, and the grapes are picked by hand. These personal touches make the finished product award winning.
Tinwood Farm, Tinwood Lane, Halnaker, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0NE
www.tinwoodestate.com / 01243 537372
Tinwood Estate has three vineyards, and grows grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Their farm has a unique micro-climate where it is in the shadow of the Isle of Wight, meaning the area is repeatedly awarded the sunniest place in Great Britain. They offer many different events throughout the year including vineyard tours, wine and chocolate tastings, and the exciting Harvest Experience, where guests get a full day in the vineyard, enjoying grape picking, a 3-course lunch, tour and tasting.
Charles Palmer Vineyard
Hastings Road, Winchelsea, East Sussex TN36 4AD
www.charlespalmer-vineyards.co.uk / 01797 226216
The vines used here are high quality, low yield plants which means that the wine produced is exceptional, and sought after. Winemaker Will Davenport uses his expertise in both New World and Old World wines to create a sparkling combination that is different and bold.