Sussex sparkling wine granted protected status

SUSSEX is enjoying its Champagne moment after its sparkling wine moved a step closer to gaining protected status.

It is hoped the move will put the county’s burgeoning industry in line with top wine producing areas across Europe.

The approval from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the final hurdle before “Sussex” is recognised as an area of excellence for winemaking.

The process has now been forwarded to the EU for recognition and is hoped to be completed in six months.

The EU’s protected designated origin (PDO) status for “Sussex” sparkling wine would mean only those winemakers based in the county, meeting a demanding set of quality standards, will be able to use the name “Sussex” on their wine labels.

A group of wine producers in the county joined forces to make the application.

Founder of the Rathfinny Wine Estate in Alfriston, Mark Driver, said: “We believe that ‘Sussex’ will become synonymous with high quality sparkling and still wine

“So when you go into a bar in London or Tokyo you will be asked: ‘Would you like a glass of Champagne or a delicious glass of ‘Sussex’’?

“‘Sussex’ will become a quality marque reflecting the qualities of “Sussex” wine, what winemakers call ‘Terroir’ reflecting the soils that are influenced by the South Downs, most of the vineyards are on the chalky soils or the greensands to the north, perfect free draining soils for grape growing.”

Sam Linter from the Bolney Wine Estate said: “This is an opportunity to showcase “Sussex”, which is a region of many internationally award-winning wine producers. It would be good to see other top wine producing counties doing the same.”

Chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said: “Not only does it recognise the particular growing conditions found in ‘Sussex’ it shows the commitment of wine makers in this region to produce high quality still and sparkling wines under strict production criteria.”

Peter Gladwin from Nutbourne Vineyard near Pulborough said: “The ‘Sussex’ PDO will be a mark of quality giving consumers an assurance of excellence. I am hopeful that other regions of England and Wales will quickly follow on this exciting development of the industry.”

The new Sussex PDO will limit the grape varieties that can be used to make ‘Sussex’ wines and will insist upon hand harvesting and lower yields in vineyards, ensuring that only the best grapes are used in ‘Sussex’ wines.

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