YOU can raise a glass to the best of our local wine industry at this year’s English Wine Festival on bank holiday Monday.

Hosted by the team from Butler’s Wine Cellar on Hove Lawns as part of the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival’s free entry Sussex and the World Weekend, the event on May 29 will showcase over 20 local vineyards and wineries with over 120 wines for visitors to sample.

“There has never been a more exciting time for English wines”, says organiser Henry Butler from Butler’s Wine Cellar in Brighton.

“There are more producers than ever, more competition wins, and the overall quality has improved immeasurably. We are very excited to be showcasing a broad range of these wonderful wines at the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival.”

The festival also marks the start of the annual national English Wine Week which features cellar door tastings, wine dinners, tours and trails at vineyards across England and Wales.

“Sussex really is the heart of the emerging English wine industry”, says Nick Mosley, festival director. “Producers such as Bolney, Ridgeview and Wiston are gaining acclaim and prestigious awards on a weekly basis”.

The ‘terroir’ of the South Downs is very similar to the chalky soils and temperate climate of the Champagne region in France, making Sussex the perfect location for growing traditional sparkling grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, alongside varieties including Pinot Blanc, Bacchus and Dornfelder. Red wine production in the south of England is also on the rise as growers and winemakers develop their skills and knowledge.

“We’re proud of our longstanding support for the Sussex wine industry”, Nick added. “As an organisation, we’ve been championing our local producers not only here in the county through our festival events and Sussex Wine Bus Tours but also internationally through gastronomic events across Europe and as far afield as Vancouver in Canada. With England not being a well-known wine producing nation, it’s amazing to see people’s hugely positive reactions when they sample a glass”.

Tickets for the English Wine Festival are £10 in advance including six tasting tokens from or directly from Butler’s Wine Cellar (01273 698 724).

The closing weekend on Hove Lawns features the Big Sussex Market, Live Food Show hosted by Andrew Kay, Children’s Food Festival supporting Rockinghorse children’s charity and the Butler’s Wine Cellar English Wine Festival that launches the nationwide English Wine Week.

The festival is the largest event of its kind in the south of England, with an extensive programme of themed restaurant dinners, food tours and trails, wine tastings and collaborative events between chefs and food and drink producers.

Entry to the food festival’s Sussex & The World Weekend is free, running Saturday, May 27 to bank holiday Monday 29 May from 10am - 6pm.

Next Thursday the festival will hold its Pommery Champagne Dinner at 7pm for 7.30pm start at the Harbour Hotel in King’s Road, Brighton. Ticketsin advance are £65 including Champagne with each course. To book call the venue directly on 01273 916 916 or visit

This year’s festival gala dinner sees one of France’s oldest and most respected Champagne houses join with the hugely talented chef patron of Harbour Hotels for a matched wine dinner. Presented by one of Pommery’s own wine-makers, You’ll enjoy a selection of their wines including Brut Royal, Summertime Pommery, Apanage and Pommery Louise alongside a fine dining menu crafted by chef Alex Aitken. Hosted in the Marine Room of the stunning new Harbour Hotel, this is definitely a festival evening to celebrate.