Vineyard near Heathfield wants to sell alcohol on site

Beacon Down Vineyard has applied for a licence so it can sell alcohol on site
Beacon Down Vineyard has applied for a licence so it can sell alcohol on site

A vineyard’s bid to sell wine ‘at the farm gate’ is to go before Wealden councillors next week.

Next Monday (April 8), Wealden District Council’s licensing committee is to consider an application to allow the sale of alcohol at the Beacon Down Vineyard in Browns Lane, Cross-in-Hand.

In their application, business owners Paul and Alice Pippard say the licence would allow them to ‘cut out the middleman’ and sell their wine within their farm yard during wine tasting events and vineyard tours.

The application reads: “The main reason for us applying to have a licence to sell alcohol is to be able to store our bottles of wine on site, to be able to offer our wine for sale on-site and to fulfil on-line sales via our website.

“We’d like to sell our wine to passing customers, to those participating in wine tours, tastings and other events such as harvest and a summer BBQ.”

Previously the business has secured temporary event licences to sell alcohol on site and currently sells the bulk of its produce online, with collection from an off-site licensed premises.

By securing a permanent licence, Mr and Mrs Pippard say, they would be able to sell and ship from the vineyard directly.

However the application has been met with some concern from some nearby neighbours, who have raised fears about noise and an increase in traffic to the site.

The council has received 13 letters of objection since the application was lodged in January 2018, although seven letters of support were also received.

To address these concerns, Mr and Mrs Pippard say, they have agreed to forego the right to play music from the site during events and to limit their opening hours to between and 10am and 6pm Sunday to Thursday.

However, opening hours will be longer on Fridays and Saturdays – with the sale of alcohol allowed until 9pm under the licence sought.

The owners are also offering to develop a noise management plan with Wealden District Council’s Environmental Health team.

In their application, Mr and Mrs Pippard said: “The hours will enable us to be able to fulfil online sales and for local people to be able to pop by to buy wine (farm-gate sales).

“We are looking to establish a small lifestyle rural business that is in keeping with its surroundings and enhances the area.

“We have received a number of supportive letters as part of this process which recognises that fact and see the vineyard as an asset to Cross in Hand.

“It is not a commercial drinking venue like a pub or nightclub.”

The committee is set to consider the proposals at a meeting on Monday, April 8.