When it comes to vineyards, Sussex, and specifically the South Downs National Park, boasts a growing global reputation for producing exceptional wines. There are several more well known ones within a 30 minute drive of our holiday homes, such as the Tinwood Estate or Wiston Estate and if wine is your thing – these are worth a visit for sure. However we want to introduce you to a hidden gem we discovered more recently.
Nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park is Stopham Vineyard. A defining characteristic of this vineyard, that sets it apart from others, is its commitment to cultivating its own grapes. This allows them to fully express the unique terrain of Sussex. Situated in an area renowned for its chalky soils and gentle south-facing slopes, the vineyard’s location offers an ideal microclimate for growing cool-climate grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
Stopham Vineyard places a strong emphasis on sustainable and environmentally conscious practices. They minimise spraying and mow under the vines to reduce the need for chemicals.
The team take pride in their small-scale production, focusing on quality over quantity. With only 17 acres under vine, they tend to the vines themselves, and hand-harvesting allows them to select only the finest grapes. By controlling every step of the winemaking process, from grape to bottle, they are able to preserve the integrity of their wines and showcase the best of what Sussex has to offer.
The tasting takes place in the winery, which we think is wonderful, as you are fully immersed in the wine making process and are right where all the action happens. Formal guided tours of the vineyard are available on most Saturdays between April and September followed by wine tasting. Even better, if you want to make a day of it you can combine that with lunch in the pub by the river afterwards.
Stopham itself is steeped in history and is a very pretty hamlet to visit with an 11th century Norman church and one of the most iconic bridges in Sussex that runs across the river Rother. So if you’re coming to stay this summer and are into your wine, we recommend getting off the beaten track and taking a trip to Stopham Vineyard either for an official guided tour or a more informal visit. If you do the latter, remember to ring first – they might be just be out tending to the vines!