Video: New Alfriston winery is a corker

The largest vineyard in the UK was offically opened in Alfriston by business secretary the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP on Friday.

Rathfinny Winery owners Mark and Sarah Driver plan to produce more than a million bottles per year by 2020 from the 160 acres of land they acquired in 2010.

Rathfinny vineyard opened by Dr Vince Cable MP SUS-140519-140556001

Rathfinny vineyard opened by Dr Vince Cable MP SUS-140519-140556001

The Sussex sparkling wine will be sold around the globe to rival Champagne.

They have planted 160 acres with vines, with the first harvest due later this year and its debut Sussex sparkling wine to be released in 2017.

As an advocate for the English wine industry and Rathfinny, Vince Cable was the perfect person to open Rathfinny.

Mark said: “The opening of our winery marks the next stage in achieving our goal of establishing Rathfinny as premium producer of Sussex sparkling wine.

“It is particularly fitting to have the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP to open the winery as he has been such a loyal supporter of our project.”

Guests at the official opening were treated to a tour of the estate and vineyard, along with a lunch in the grand tasting room designed by Susie Atkinson overlooking the vineyard.

Sarah added: “We hope to witness Sussex sparkling wine become as well known and globally respected as the likes of Champagne is today.”

The environmentally friendly building, designed by Martin Swatton, was short-listed for a RIBA architectural award earlier this year.

Rathfinny will soon complete work on its flint barns, which are being converted into accommodation for up to 46 seasonal workers, as well as other special interest and educational groups visiting the South Downs National Park.

The vineyard stressed there was a clear appetite for English sparkling wine and said there could not be a better time to launch its product.

In early May the International Wine Challenge (IWC 2014) awarded English wine producers a record five gold awards and two trophies for their sparkling wine.