English Wine Week was celebrated by Petworth MP Nick Herbert with a visit to Stopham Estate Vineyard on May 23.
Mr Herbert met winemaker Simon Woodhead at the vineyard near Pulborough. He first visited in 2012, shortly after The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration when Stopham Estate wine was served aboard the Royal Barge.
Simon said: “It was great to show Nick around the vineyard on such a beautiful day.”
He gave the MP a tour of the vineyard, which overlooks the Arun Valley.
The sandy soil, southern facing slopes, and low altitude support the production of pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, auxerrois and bacchus grape varieties.
The South Downs ‘terroir’ is the reason so many vineyards have been established in the area.
Simon revealed plans to open a tasting room and dining room next to the vineyard’s winery early next summer. Work is due to start on converting the Victorian farm buildings into a unique venue where visitors will have the opportunity to taste and purchase wine from the ‘cellar door’.
Last month, Stopham Vineyard won a trophy for ‘Best Still Wine’ for its pinot gris 2017 at the Independent English Wine Awards (IEWA), the second year it has won in this category.
Last year was regarded by English winemakers as one of the best vintages on record, with near perfect conditions and yields which exceeded expectations. This year is already shaping up to be another successful one.
Sussex is now a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for both still and sparkling wines. A PDO is an official EU designation for quality products linked to a specific geographical area.
The expectation is that Sussex will become synonymous with high quality wine and be recognised in the same way as Champagne.
Mr Herbert, whose Arundel and South Downs constituency has more wine producers than any other, said: “It was wonderful to return to Stopham Vineyard on such a beautiful day and to hear about their exciting plans. I am very proud to represent this and so many other great wine producers. English Wine Week is a really good way to promote them all.”