Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens in Horsham, Sussex, has just planted the UK’s first commercial Pinotage vineyard – exciting stuff, indeed! This is quite a turnaround for the site, which closed in 2010 because of financial difficulties but is due to reopen next year following loving restoration, thanks to the entrepreneurial new owner Penny Streeter OBE.
The team at Leonardslee has planted up an experimental half-hectare plot of this signature South African grape, bringing the total area planted with vines to 16 hectares across both Leonardslee and a second site nearby at Mannings Heath.
At a time when English sparkling wine is really beginning to shine and winemakers are starting to get the best out of the stubborn Pinot Noir grape when it comes to still English wines, could this bold move be the next big success for winemaking in this country? We certainly think they could be onto something. Leonardslee also have the benefit of an award-winning winemaker in Johann Fourie to call upon. Having worked on Penny’s other vineyard projects in South Africa, both have the necessary experience to make Pinotage a success in the UK – if these guys can’t do it, then perhaps it isn’t meant to be!