Prentis: It’s time to raise a glass of Sussex

•  Food and farming minister to announce new Sussex Wine GI
•  Designation to provide boost for next generation of UK wine growers

Sussex wine will be designated as a UK Geographical Indication (GI), the Government will announce today.

The move, possible thanks to our departure from the European Union, will encompass Sussex sparkling, still and origin wines. GI status provides a guarantee to consumers that the product they are buying is the real thing and prevents imitation products. The recognition means Sussex wine joins the family of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) registered products from across the UK and beyond, and will help Sussex PDO wine producers communicate the excellence of their product to consumers. Sussex wine would be joining the family of special products which includes Scotch Whisky, Welsh Lamb and Herefordshire Cider.

Sussex is home to Plumpton College who are training the next generation of UK wine growers, and this will further boost jobs, skills and the local economy. This follows on from the launch of the Government’s Food Strategy earlier this week, which highlighted the contribution of the food and drink sector to the levelling-up agenda and measures to encourage consumers to buy more local produce.

Food and Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, said:

“This registration, possible thanks to Brexit, demonstrates the ambition of Sussex wine producers to share their product at home and abroad.

“The UK has developed an-ever growing reputation for high-quality wine, with Sussex wine receiving widespread international recognition and investment – with a 90% increase in vineyards in the South Downs national park since 2016.

“A year ago, I said that I look forward to the day when, as a treat, we no longer have a glass of champagne but we can together have a glass of Sussex. That day has come.”

Sussex wine producers have already won some of the top accolades in the world, winning ‘Best Sparkling Wine’ in worldwide international competitions no fewer than eight times. In the IWC 2015 awards, Sussex wine producers were awarded six gold medals for sparkling wines. In the 2015 IWSC competition a Sussex still producer was awarded a gold medal, the first ever awarded to any English still wine producer. Sussex is also home to Plumpton College who are training the next generation of UK wine growers.


Notes to editors
• The grapes used are grown from varieties belonging to Vitis vinifera and all production stages take place within the area defined as East and West Sussex.
• The effect of chalk in the soils on Sussex wine should not be underestimated. Chalk is highly porous and acts as a reservoir that provides the vines with a steady supply of water, even in the driest summers. The effort required to tap into this water supply puts the vines under just enough water stress in the growing season to achieve that delicate balance of ripeness, acidity and berry aroma potential.
• Sussex also benefits from its high latitude, which allows a longer growing season, enabling grapes to mature to full phenolic ripeness, and the wide diurnal temperature range providing ideal growing conditions for quality sparkling and still wine production.
• Sussex has a long history of growing grapes and the still wine producers within Sussex have won many awards for their still wines both in the UK and in international competitions. Colour and flavour are dependent on blend.

Simon Thorpe WineGB CEO says: “The approval of a PDO for wines grown and made in Sussex comes at an important time for English and Welsh wines. There has never been more interest in and demand for our wines and the reputation they have gained in both domestic and international markets is based on high quality viticulture and winemaking excellence.

WineGB, as a trade body, represents the interests of vineyards and winemakers across the whole country, and is committed to ensuring there is an appropriate GI structure for all. As such it has recently completed a review of the existing PDO and PGI regulations for English and Welsh wines. A consultation document, which is the result of this review, will be released to the industry in the coming weeks and will allow all producers to have their say in the shaping of the regulations which will then be proposed to Defra.”