Fine Sussex Wines: A Day at Stopham Vineyard
Stopham Vineyard is located down a winding Sussex country road, hidden behind a quaint English church. We pull up in front of the operations centre, located in a charming, refurbished barn.
Simon Woodhead, the founder, and Tom Bartlett, assistant winemaker, greet us warmly. Simon has agreed to take us on a tour of the vines; as he guides us across the rolling hills (the vineyard is located in the Sussex Downs National Park, after all), there are plenty of stories to share. From the founding of the vineyard in 2007 (when Simon planted 21, 000 vines) to their current reputation for excellence, Simon and his team have poured their souls into the estate.
There’s a romantic and old worldly combination of roses and vines (rose bushes traditionally graced the end of a row of vines, to warn of danger resulting from the climate – these days, it’s purely an act of beauty), with an old chestnut tree overseeing the crop. But the idyllic vista is deceptive. Wine-making is a highly technical and often precarious process; soil quality, mineral composition and weather are tied up in the making of a wine. Creating a good wine takes expertise, experience and an unwavering passion – qualities that, fortunately, Simon and Tom possess in abundance.
The final product speaks for itself. Simon pours us glasses of everything, from a soft pink, vintage rosé, with delicate notes of summer strawberries and raspberries, to a champagne-quality sparkling white, with hints of honeyed brioche. It’s a treat – and, after tasting their collection, there’s no way we could omit these from a Sussex hamper. Wine this good deserves its place on the map.
Interested? Look out for Stopham Vineyard wines in our luxury hampers. And, in the meantime, check out the Stopham Vineyard website to find out more about this Sussex gem.
Tom (left) and Simon (right) share with us glasses of their Sparkling Estate Sparking 2010.