The owners of a Sussex vineyard are toasting their sparkling success.

Court Garden Vineyard in Ditchling took home bronze at the South East Wine of the Year Awards and also scooped first place in the sparkling wine category at ukvine’s Designs on Wine competition.

Both awards were for the vineyard’s Court Garden 2009 Vintage Classic Cuvée.

Joint owner Howard Corney said: “We are thrilled to receive these awards which reflect the superb quality of this sparkling wine.

“We knew our sparkling wine was good but when the panel of six judges awarded us such high marks we realised we had got it about right.

“English sparkling wine is enjoying considerable success at the moment, with much interest and investment in new vineyards and wineries.

“We are a comparatively small player and we concentrate on producing the best quality grapes that we can.

“After such a difficult year last year and a wet winter the current spell of warm sunshine has given the vineyard a real boost.

“Our aim is to grow excellent grapes and produce first-class sparkling wine. This provides employment for local people and contractors and adds tourist opportunities with vineyard tours.

“We have funded the vineyard through a diversification project following the success of our farm shop, but as the vineyard became successful some expansion was undertaken with traditional funding and organic growth within the farm enterprise.

“We created competitive advantage by winning prizes, maintaining high quality of product and service. We also hold vineyard and tours for wedding parties, taking advantage of beautiful location within the South Downs National Park.

“We communicate with our customers as much as possible through wine fairs and a tasting room at Court Garden. We send a newsletter to customers and we have formed mutually supportive relationships with local independent wine merchants.

“We enjoy welcoming many different groups to the vineyard.

“The early days for a vineyard are inevitably lean, but we have had sufficient success to allow organic growth.

“Modest expansion will follow demand, while we maintain quality and reputation.”

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