English Wine Week hits Sparkling Sussex

Sussex sees a number of wine-based events as part of English Wine Week and the Brighton Food Festival. Sam Harrington-Lowe investigates…

Photos: Julia Claxton

It is a truth, (almost) universally acknowledged, that the globe is getting hotter. And whilst that’s definitely not a good thing for polar bears and ice caps, it’s something that’s had a fundamental effect on our wine production here in Sussex.

Our chalky soil here in the South Downs is good for vines, but it’s always been a bit cold. Ridgeview for example have in the past had to employ massive candles in between the vines and tales of helicopters to keep away the frost abound. But an overall average rise of around one degree means that wine production is up, and the wine business in Sussex and the South East is booming.

Geologist and viticulture guru Professor Richard Selley, who has worked with UK vineyard giant Denbies as a consultant, goes that bit further and estimates that if temperatures continue to rise it won’t be long before vineyards will need to consider replacing their vines with types better suited to warmer climates.

Aside from having a positive effect on our regional economy, there’s something very satisfying about drinking wine that’s come from up the road. And if you needed more evidence of this, we recommend you investigate English Wine Week, from 23-31 May 2015.

wine-glass-cutTo celebrate this boom, Brighton Food & Drink Festival has a number of events this year. By the time you read this, they’ll already have worked through the Brighton Wine Fair at the Hotel du Vin, The Ridgeview Wine Dinner at Jeremy’s and the Wines of New Zealand at Drakes. But fear not, if you missed these treats, there’s plenty more viticulture ahead. Here’s our guide:-

Sussex Wine Bus Tour – part of English Wine Week (Saturday 23 May)
Visiting two vineyards – still wine and sparkling – where you’ll explore and taste many of the wines. Breakfast of local apple juice and croissants, plus delicious buffet lunch is included.
Departs Old Steine, Brighton
9.30am – 6pm, £75 in advance
Tickets from www.brightonfoodfestival.com

Laithwaites Brighton Wine Tasting (Saturday 23 May)
Laithwaite’s are showcasing over 40 wines at this Brighton wine tasting. Meet the growers, sample all-new wines and enjoy nibbles from local food producers.
Thistle Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton
1.30pm-3.30pm & 6.30pm-8.30pm, £25 in advance
Tickets from www.laithwaiteswine.co.uk/events or call 03330 148200

English Wine & Food Matching Night (Friday 29 May) part of English Wine Week and supported by English Wine Producers, Butlers Wine Cellar & 64 Degrees
One of the headline events of English Wine Week. We’re now seen by the wine world as one of the most important emerging wine regions. Sussex is home to a host of award-winning and acclaimed vineyards including Ridgeview Wine Estate and Court Garden Vineyard at Ditchling, Plumpton College, Albourne Estate near Hassocks and Bolney Wine Estate just north of Haywards Heath. At this very special evening hosted by Henry Butler and Julia Trustram Eve, each vineyard will present one of their wines with canapés expertly matched by chef Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees – whose Brighton eatery was voted #36 in the UK at the Restaurant Awards 2014. There’s also elderberry port from Blackdown Sussex Spirits.
Festival marquees on Hove Lawns
7.30pm, £50 in advance
Tickets from www.brightonfoodfestival.com

Brighton Wine Festival sponsored by Nutshell Construction, part of English Wine Week supported by Butler’s Wine Cellar and English Wine Producers (Saturday 30 May)
This excellent event is back on Hove Lawns with Henry Butler showcasing the best of world wines alongside award-winning and critically acclaimed wines from Sussex and the South Downs. Sample whilst you talk to the producers and importers, and if you place an order of 12 bottles or more on the day they’ll refund your ticket there and then.
Festival marquees on Hove Lawns
Saturday 30 May, 12-2pm, £20 in advance
Saturday 30 May, 2.30-4.30pm, £20 in advance
Tickets from www.brightonfoodfestival.com

Food and Drink Masterclasss (Sunday 31 May)
Learn more about the food and drink of Sussex with the people who make and sell it.
Sunday 31 May, noon – 1pm: Tasting of award-winning Sussex sparkling wines presented by Mardi Roberts of Ridgeview Wine Estate. (£15)
Sunday 31 May, 1.30pm – 2.30pm: Blackdown Sussex Spirits cocktail masterclass with producer Sarah Thompson. OK, not wine. But it’s a Sussex phenomenon and it’s straight after Ridgeview. You should go (£15)
Festival marquees on Hove Lawns
Noon – 6pm, prices vary from £6 – £15 in advance
Tickets from www.brightonfoodfestival.com


About Sam Harrington-Lowe
As the managing editor Sam is responsible for all the Title publications and works diligently to develop the brand and support relationships with all partners and clients. She runs things with her dedicated PA Ms Alice Pickle Pug