Wine producers are keeping their fingers crossed for a healthy harvest to help continue their growing international reputation.

The long, hot summer enjoyed across Sussex this year created good growing conditions and the prospect of a bountiful crop of quality grapes.

As the harvest begins, industry insiders say that many vines are looking healthy and the crop size looks set to provide good volume.

The news will see Sussex producers, such as Court Garden vineyard in Ditchling and Sedlescombe Vineyard, near Robertsbridge, raise a toast as they look to build on a growing reputation.

But English Wine Producers, the marketing arm of the UK wine industry, is not predicting a record-breaking grape harvest because of a “hangover” from poor conditions last year, particularly the wet summer.

Earlier this year, Howard Corney, joint owner of Court Garden, said he predicted more and more wine producers would start to invest in the county because of the climate.

He said: “Sussex has a maritime climate and being closer to the sea means that the temperatures are moderated, meaning vineyards flourish.

“If big names were to buy in Sussex it would be a tremendous advert and endorsement of the sparkling wine industry.

“It would most definitely raise the profile which would be beneficial all round.”