New producers are popping up on the map all the time, enabling Sussex to be perhaps the best equipped English wine region for tourism thanks to pockets of vineyards dotted around the county. The recently established Sussex Wineries group will see eight producers work together to drive forward the region’s tourism reputation, kicking off with the Sussex Wineries Weekend, which first happened in June and will be an annual celebration. Here’s my list of the top wineries to look out for in Sussex…
Stopham Vineyard specialises in white wine production from hand-harvested grapes grown in the beautiful vineyard next to the River Arun in the South Downs National Park.
The vineyard is in an area of outstanding natural beauty in West Sussex and forms part of the South Downs National Park. While here you can enjoy wine tastings and wine tours with one of the winemakers, Simon or Tom. Get a deep insight into the winemaking process from soil to bottle.
As one of the pioneering English winemakers, Bolney Wine Estate is a family business that began with the first vines being planted in 1972. With 50% of production being dedicated to still wines and under leadership by Sam Linter, Bolney has gained a strong reputation for consistent and expressive still and sparkling wines. A fully-fledged café is situated on site, offering wine tasting and terraced with views of the expansive vineyards.
Photo Credit: Albourne Estate Facebook
Alison Nightingale’s Albourne Estate, based just 8 miles from Brighton, has built a reputation for its delicate, delicious still English wines. This year has seen Albourne launch a full range of delicious sparkling wines too, as well as a Vermouth. Tours are led by owner & winemaker Alison or winemaking assistant Matthew, guaranteeing an insightful first-hand adventure.
Photo Credit: Breaky Bottom
Famously described as the most beautiful vineyard in England by the brilliant Oz Clarke, Breaky Bottom is a vineyard that has to be seen first-hand. A treacherous journey across rocky terrain leads you to a beautiful, isolated valley that is home to one Peter Hall. A true English wine legend, Peter has been making wine since the early 70’s and his sparkling Seyval Blanc is one of Sussex’s most surprising gems.
Photo Credit: Nyetimber Facebook
After Nyetimber’s English Sparkling breakthrough in the 90’s, the famous producer has grown in scale and reputation with its tireless attention to detail both inside and outside of the bottle. Its meticulously manicured vineyards now span 170 hectares, and the resulting wines are world-renowned. The open days they offer in the summertime are both educational and end with a generous tasting of fine sparkling wines in a delightful 15th Century Medieval Barn.
Oxney Wine Estate
Photo Credit: Oxney Estate
As one of a select few Organic English winemakers, Oxney Estate already has a lot going for it. Add in the opportunity to stay both on the stunning vineyards or in nearby beautifully renovated converted barns, and you've got a really unique experience. A stay here is truly one of those blissful escape from the city moments.
Photo Credit: Rathfinny Estate Facebook
As one of the region’s newest arrivals, Rathfinny Estate has only just launched its first Sussex Sparkling wines, to much critical acclaim. The Estate has already established itself as one of the leading Sussex wine tourism hotspots, with tours, accommodation and a whole host of sumptuous lunch and afternoon tea tour options.
Photo Credit: Ridgeview
Founded in 1995 by Mike and Chris Roberts, Ridgeview has been another inspiring pioneer of the English sparkling wine movement. Ridgeview’s delicious sparkling wines are one of the most well-distributed and can be sampled across much of the country.
Photo Credit: Wiston Estate Winery Facebook
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting English wine producers to emerge in the last decade. Wiston Estate has delivered impeccable quality English sparkling wines from the very beginning, with the first vineyards only being planted in 2006. A collaboration between the Goring family and one of England’s top winemakers Dermot Sugrue has seen Wiston become both a marker for quality and also one of the most significant contract winemaking hubs in the country. Wiston Estate has just this year opened its doors to the public for the first time.