Discover the Sussex Winelands

Wine GB, the national association for English and Welsh wines, revealed on July 4th that the UK now has over 1,000 vineyards, with a 9.2% increase from the previous year. Their first Wine Tourism Report also stated that 1.5 million winery and vineyard visits were made in 2023 – a 55% increase from 2022.

The Sussex Winelands are one of the major regions of England’s burgeoning wine industry, with over 140 vineyards and an estimated 30 wineries. This beautiful area boasts some of the finest vineyards in the UK that continue to attract visitors from around the world with their high-quality and diverse visitor experiences.

So, what exactly are the Sussex Winelands?

The Sussex Winelands consist of an array of vineyards and wineries spread across East and West Sussex within easy reach of both London and Gatwick Airport. This area has become synonymous with English winemaking excellence, producing a significant portion of the country’s wines. Many of the region’s vineyards can be found around the picturesque South Downs, making it a truly picturesque hub of English wine production.

Albourne vineyard in the Sussex Winelands

Credit: Albourne Estate

Sussex’s rich winemaking history dates back to the Roman era, with vineyards recorded in the Domesday Book. However, it wasn’t until pioneering winemakers like Bolney Wine Estate and Nyetimber in the 80s and 90s followed suit by establishing the foundation for today’s vibrant Sussex wine industry.

In its quest to match the sophistication and prestige of its European counterparts, the Sussex wine industry is quickly gaining recognition worldwide. With chalky soil and a climate similar to that of Champagne, the area is now producing high-quality sparkling wines that can compete with the best of the best.

South Africa’s wine regions, such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, are highly sought-after destinations for their stunning landscapes and diverse wine offerings. Similarly, with its growing number of vineyards and exceptional facilities, Sussex aims to offer equally luxurious and unique wine experiences. Visitors can expect to enjoy not only the rich history and outstanding wine at Sussex’s vineyards but also delightful dining experiences and sustainable local produce that promises an eco-friendly and unforgettable journey.

Wiston Estate, part of the Sussex Winelands

Wiston Estate’s tasting room

Why are the Sussex Winelands worth visiting?

The Sussex Winelands are developing a global reputation through the production of award-winning wines. The area is home to well established vineyards which have internationally recognised brands and worldwide demand for their wines including Nyetimber, Bolney, Ridgeview and Wiston

The region’s vineyards are now also offering a whole raft of visitor experiences from vineyard tours with expert guides to beautifully designed tasting rooms in which visitors can enjoy a tutored wine tasting within metres of where the grapes have been grown. 

Some also have delightful restaurants and cafés often serving locally sourced and seasonal produce. A growing number of the vineyards have unique spaces for private hire as well as a calendar of interesting special events such as Supper Clubs at Kinsbrook, Twilight Tours at Albourne and Tinwood’s Open-Air Cinema evenings. 

We may be biased but we also think Sussex is home to some of the prettiest vineyards in the UK, favourites include Nutbourne, Rathfinny and Bluebell – all of which have self-guided vineyard trails for you to enjoy the best views of the vines from.

Nutbourne vineyard in Sussex Winelands

Nutbourne vineyard

 What does the future hold for the Sussex Winelands?

The next ten years are predicted to be significant for the Sussex Winelands. Here’s what we’re expecting:

  • Sussex wines will continue to win international awards, further establishing their reputation for quality wines.
  • As more vineyards mature and offer luxury accommodations, gourmet dining experiences, and bespoke wine tours, they will rival more established international regions as a top wine tourism destination.
  • Improved transportation links and wine routes will make exploring the Sussex Winelands more accessible.
  • Sussex’s dedication to sustainable farming methods will position the area as a leader in eco-friendly winemaking.

Rows of vines in Sussex Winelands

Exploring the Sussex Winelands

If you’re keen to explore the Sussex Winelands, we recommend joining Great British Wine Tours on an organised wine tour to enjoy visits to multiple vineyards, guided tastings, and transport while gaining expert insights into English winemaking. Additionally, outdoor enthusiasts may prefer to hike or cycle through the South Downs Way, stopping at famous vineyards like Rathfinny, Breaky Bottom, and Ridgeview.

There’s no need to rush your visit to the Sussex Winelands; why not spend a night or two surrounded by vineyards? Luxurious accommodations can be found at Ashling Park Estate, Tinwood Estate, and Leonardslee Estate, or in one of the Historic Sussex Hotels located in the beautiful Sussex countryside: Bailiffscourt in Climping, Ockenden Manor in Cuckfield, and The Spread Eagle in Midhurst.

While the Sussex Winelands might still be in their infancy compared to established international wine regions, they are quickly making a name for themselves with their rich history, ideal terroir, and growing wine tourism industry. So, whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or a curious traveller, make sure to add the Sussex Winelands to your list of must-visit wine destinations.