Our pick of the best Sussex vineyards will have you sipping delicious English wines, surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside our county has to offer. Enjoying similar soil types and climate conditions to many of the best vineyards in the world, the south coast of England is proof that you don’t need to travel far to have an authentic wine tasting experience. From award winning international sellers, to small scale family businesses, read on to discover our favourites. From vine to wine, learn about the vinification process and sample a few glasses along the way…
Appearing on one of the earliest maps of Sussex, Court Garden Vineyard is set at the foot of the South Downs, in the historic village of Ditchling. An intimate vineyard with a passion for producing English sparkling wines, they have recently expanded their range to include a medium bodied, dry white and a summery Rosé with fruity tones.
Open every Saturday throughout the summer, visitors can choose from a morning or afternoon tour. Delving in to discover how this family-run vineyard has been growing grapes and producing wine since 2005, guests will have the opportunity to sample four glasses of their latest vintage.
In our opinion, the beauty of visiting a small-scale producer is in the personal touches that they provide, and their delicious picnic lunches are hard to beat! Delivered in a traditional wicker basket bursting with homemade baked goodies, it comes complete with a bottle their Sparkling wine to enjoy with your loved ones.
Pioneers of English wine, Bolney Estate stands right in the heart of the Sussex countryside. Their state-of-the-art winery is fascinating, even for non-wine drinkers, as their large-scale production is a wonder to behold.
Their tasting room is open from Wednesday to Sunday and visitors can sample up to five of their premium wines including still whites, still reds and English sparkling whites. Ever the trailblazers in winemaking, Bolney has also developed an incredibly rare style of sweet sparkling red. Packed full of ripe summer fruits with a hint of sweet spice, this unusual offering is one you won’t find elsewhere!
If you are looking to make a day of it, Their Eighteen Acre Café is a great place for a hearty breakfast, spot of lunch or catching up with friends over a glass of wine. We can personally recommend their Sunday roasts, enjoyed out on the stunning balcony overlooking the ripening vines. The whole family, including dogs are welcome to join, and for those who don’t like wine but fancy coming along, their Bolney Estate Gin or Rosso Vermouth with a splash of tonic is also delicious.
Occupying 18 acres of the beautiful High Weald near Heathfield in East Sussex, Beacon Down vineyard is a set on gentle slopes with stunning views over to Eastbourne and the South Downs. New kids on the block, owners Paul and Al Pippard took the leap back in May 2015 and planted over 10,000 vines across bare fields, in an effort to realise their life-long dream of owning a vineyard. Fast forward to today and this successful estate has opened its doors to visitors for tours and tastings of their award winning English white and sparkling wines.
A warm welcome awaits you at Beacon Down, as they prides themselves on being family (and dog) friendly vineyard. Encouraging engagement from all ages, you will gain a first-hand insight into the day-to-day running’s of this family-run vineyard. We would recommend booking one of their delicious picnic lunches of locally produced cheeses, salads and sausage rolls (we especially enjoyed the pate!) with a glass of your favourite wine, whilst enjoying the fantastic views.
And for those looking to get even closer to the action, their unique ‘Lease a Vine’ opportunity is a wonderful way for wine enthusiasts to join in the journey of vine to wine, whilst developing a deepener understanding of winemaking and enjoying a bottle, or a few, at the end of it.
Sedlescombe in Sussex is England’s oldest known organic vineyard. Founded by Roy Cook back in 1979, his passion for working with the environment and caring for the land continues in the estates ethos and practices to this day. With sustainability at the heart of everything they do, the team produce an extensive award-winning range of vegan-friendly whites, rose, red and sparkling wines.
The main difference between organic and conventional wines is what happens to the soil and vines in the vineyard. No chemical fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides are used and soils are kept healthy and fertile using composts and 'cover crops' such as clovers. Creating additional habitats for insects, bees, butterflies and birds, their vineyards and woodland nature trails are heavenly on a summers day, for ramblers, wildlife enthusiasts and wine-lovers alike.
Open throughout the year, visitors can enjoy an impromptu tasting without the need for booking. With their Cellar Door open for glasses of wine and their Café & Kitchen serving charcuterie boards, ploughman's lunches and grazing bowls, those looking for a wider tour of the vineyard with guided tasting can book ahead of time on their website. Wheelchair-accessible and with free customer parking, we recommend visiting in both the summer and winter months (why not!) to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful vineyard.
Set in ancient downland just 6 miles from the Worthing coast, Wiston Estate stands witin 6,000 acres of the South Downs. Comprised of 14 farms, 2000 acres of pasture and over 1200 acres of woodland cover, this award winning vineyard is a modern addition to this ancient landscape.
Specialists in producing English sparkling wine, Wiston offers a variety of exciting ways for visitors to taste their award winning produce. Whether it be after a thrilling bike ride through the South Downs, or watching the sunset at one of their unique Sundown events, wine tours are available every Wednesday – Sunday and last approx. 1.5 hours.
During the tour, guests will get up close and personal with the winemaking philosophy, as they walk through the winery, taking in the traditional Champagne coquard press, tank and barrel halls. Finished with a tutored tasting, guests are then welcome to wander through the vineyards and off into the South Downs, or continue sampling their wines alongside a delightful lunch at their upmarket restaurant, Chalk.
With more and more canine pals heading on days out with their families, we’ve scoured Sussex for the best dog friendly activities and events that the whole pack can enjoy.
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All image credits to the individual vineyards featured