Vineyard near Petworth is ‘jewel in the crown’ of award-winning sparkling wine producer

A sparkling wine producer which uses grapes harvested at a vineyard near Petworth may be new on the scene, but it is already making a stir in the international wine community and putting Petworth on the map.

The team at Roebuck Estates
The team at Roebuck Estates

Roebuck Estates has been awarded a top ‘Best in Show’ title at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards for its Classic Cuvée 2014.

It was one of only 50 wines to win the accolade in the competition, which had more than 16,000 entries from around the world – and the only English Sparkling Wine to do so.

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The Classic Cuvée 2014, which is made from the same trio of grapes as Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), was awarded 97 out of 100 points by the panel of expert wine judges – despite being only the second release from the wine producer.

The vineyard near Petworth

General Manager James Mead said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this incredible award.

“To have garnered such high praise from an esteemed group of knowledgeable tasters for only our second wine is especially rewarding.

“It very firmly puts Roebuck Estates on the wine map and benchmarks us against some of the very best sparkling wines produced in the world.”

He said the English Sparkling Wine sector was a growing industry which was making more noise, adding: “It really puts not only the UK and Sussex but Petworth on the map, which is fantastic.”

Roebuck Estates was established in 2013 and harvests grapes from several vineyards in Sussex, but Mr Mead said the 20-acre site planted just outside of Tillington was considered their base and ‘the jewel in our crown’.

“We think of Petworth as being our home,” he said.

But what makes the area so ideal for growing grapes? “We are in a really lucky position here,” Mr Mead said.

Nestled just behind the south downs hills, the vineyard is protected from some of the worst weather.

The vines, which were planted back in 2006, are rooted in reasonably sandy soil which drains very well and does not become waterlogged.

Sussex is also one of the sunniest counties on the mainland UK, said Mr Mead, which benefits the vines too.

“Certainly it’s been an unbelievably good summer,” he said. “It’s one of the few positives we can grasp out of this covid-infected year is that the weather through lockdown and until recently has been spectacular.

“The vines have been absolutely thriving.”

Unfortunately the pandemic has prevented visitors from touring the vineyard and seeing the site for themselves.

“We’ve had to be quite cautious during lockdown to really only keep necessary personnel on site, which is such a shame as we love to share the vineyard with visitors,” he said.

“The views are absolutely magnificent. They are incredibly tranquil, surrounded by nature. There’s lots of flora and fauna around which people love seeing.”

The vineyard is currently full of action as its local workforce responds to its earliest ever harvest.

Going forward, Mr Mead said Roebuck Estates would be working to continue to promote their wines in the UK and around the world.

He added: “We would also like to build far more on our local network, knocking on the door of restaurants and wineshops in the build up to Christmas.

“Hopefully people will be supportive of an award winning producer on their doorstep.”

The Classic Cuvée 2014 is available to purchase directly from Roebuck Estates at RRP £35 and also from South Downs Cellars in Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield at RRP £34.95.

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