Bougie nights: Sussex vineyard creates a show of English wine

On chilly mornings over the next few days, the vines on the Ridgeview Wine Estate in East Sussex shall be illuminated from the flickering glow of an thousand flames.

Paraffin wax candles in pots, often known as bougies, protect budding vines from frost, among the hazards of wine-making inside English climate.

Challenges such as inclement weather are among the reasons that no English vineyard hadbeen named the best producer in nearly half 100 years within the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition, the Oscars of wine.

Britons buy record 164m bottles of sparkling wine in 2018

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Until at the moment, which is, when the sparkling wine specialist Ridgeview became the first English winner in 49 years, emerging triumphant over much more illustrious names just like Lanson of France and South Africa’s Spier.

On the fringes on the South Downs north of Brighton, Ridgeview is nestled in a very verdant basin that has a warm microclimate, protected because of the hills on the worst on the weather fronts sweeping in from your sea.

On a crisp December day, however, as steely-grey clouds darken the night sky, it appears an unlikely position for some of the world’s best wine.

Ridgeview’s chief executive, Tamara Roberts, says the award has “opened people’s eyes to your quality that’s emerging from England, simply because you aren’t getting awards like this if you’re not making really good wines”. The triumph was particularly poignant, arriving over the fourth anniversary in the death of Mike Roberts, Tamara’s father and the vineyard’s founder.

His legacy at Ridgeview is really a business by having an authentic family feel. His wife, Christine, remains a director, Tamara runs this business and her brother Simon will be the head winemaker. Both their spouses, Mardi and yet another Simon, hold senior positions, and 4 boys aged between 10 and 13 are potential heirs into the cellar keys.

A family ethos helps the company to exercise its sights on the variety of dynastic history that centuries-old wine regions already possess. “We’re not seeking to make poisonous of cash right away and generations ahead will find the corporation more profitable than supermarket do,” she says.

The vineyard virgins giving English wine a sparkle

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Ridgeview offers double its output to 600,000 bottles 12 months because they build a brand new winery in 2019, just in case the near future holds many more long blazing summers like 2018, they’ll require it. The 2011 bumper harvest yielded 560 tonnes of grapes, compared with 300 tonnes from your same acreage a year ago, and each of it of fantastic quality.

Head winemaker Simon thinks that like the problems faced by English winemakers, they love the main advantage of being neither a vintage world nor a different world region.The Roberts family have long stuck into the belief that they could not only make wine, but mix it with the best producers on the earth.

“One of the most popular problems the English industry has experienced is not enough availability [in the domestic market]. Lots of people have never had a taste of it mainly because it wasn’t in Tesco or even the local offie,” Tamara says. “So it’s simple to claim that it’s rubbish and, crap, English wine was rubbish for quite a while. But it has evolved and you also won’t turn people’s opinions round in a very generation.”

All appears rosy inside the garden at this point, but Tamara desire more aid from the us govenment, which is likely to see wine on the list of few alcohol types that is heavily taxed C at 2.77 a bottle – without an excessive amount an outcry. “We employ huge numbers more, and even more skilled people, than the usual farm does. We’re generating employment and we all get zero support back,” Tamara says.

Ridgeview as well as its peers could do with proper funding to increase wine tourism, she says, promoting regions for example Sussex C under an hour’s train ride from London C for a venue with the sort of vineyard tours that thrive in Nz, France and Argentina. “There is big potential here. And who knows in five to A decade time the size of this region will likely be.”

English wine in sparkling form despite tax burden

560 tonnes Grapes harvested at Ridgeview, up from 300 tonnes in 2017

6m bottles UK production in 2017, predicted to double or simply triple in 2018

66% Sparkling wine as a amount of English and Welsh wine output

2.77 Measure of tax put into the cost of a bottle of sparkling wine from the UK

7p Comparable tax paid by sparkling wine drinkers in France


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