The mention of English wine seems to amuse the uninitiated yet Sussex wines are quietly winning awards and converting sceptics with their quality and taste. The veritable Oz Clark recently named Sussex as one of his special places. Why? Because not only do the vineyards produce beautiful wines, they also provide opportunities for sampling, touring and meeting the Vintners - wine buying memories a supermarket shelf simply can't compete with.
Sussex has the same chalky subsoil found in the Champagne region of France. The sunny, dry climate means that, as well as award-winning reds, whites and rosés, East & West Sussex vineyards produce sparkling wines that regularly trounce French Champagnes in international competitions and blind taste tests.
Many Sussex vineyards are open daily for visits, tastings and tours; others by appointment only. Our vineyard profiles show you which is which. They welcome enthusiast and novice alike to share their passion for wine making and their skill in wine production. Star wines at Bolney Wine Estates include the red Dark Harvest, Bart’s Bubbly and Pinot Noir, while at the 37-acre Carr Taylor Vineyards, near Hastings, the sparkling wines, fruit wines and traditional mead have won over 60 international awards.
At Nyetimber Vineyard, West Chiltington, try the Champagne-beating Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs and the Classic Cuvée, and at Ridgeview Wine Estate Ditchling Common, their delicious sparkling rosé always sells out. A favourite at Breaky Bottom Vineyard, Rodmell near Lewes, is the Cuvée Alex Mercier Sparkling.
At England’s oldest organic vineyard, Sedlescombe Organic Wines, near Robertsbridge, the wines are all made the traditional way, and being organic, you’re less likely to get a hangover. Nutbourne Vineyard near Pulborough has 18 acres of vines, producing their distinctive ‘Nutty’ bubbly and a range of dry white wines, while Barnsgate Manor Vineyard Uckfield, produces white wines and bubbly, as well as red wines from Rondo grapes, a new variety especially developed to cope with the northern European climate.
Alternatively, English Vine Tours offers you or your group the chance to explore the mysteries of Sussex’s vineyards and taste the delights of Sussex wine. Wine tour packages include travel in a private minibus, vineyard tour, wine tasting, lunch and complimentary bottle of wine. All wine tours are fully accompanied by a wine expert and vary from half day, one day, two day and special day wine tours for something a little different. Secure online booking and gift vouchers available.
Local breweries are springing up and championing the cause, and taste, of real ales. From long established firms like Harvey's to relatively recently established brewers like Hammerpot, they all share a passion for flavour. Our brewery profiles show where to purchase Sussex beers.
As Oz Clark says "When you know the place, and the people, a wine will never taste the same again. It can only taste better." The same applies to local beer and who could argue with that?