OUR vineyards have made waves with some big winners at the Wine GB Awards 2020.

Sussex has taken 11 of the 34 gold medals awarded this year.

The prestigious awards went to Ashling Park Estate in Chichester (two awards) , Breaky Bottom at Lewes (five awards), Bluebell Vineyard Estates at Uckfield , Hidden Spring Vineyard (Heathfield), Sugrue South Downs (Pulborough) and Wiston Estate (Pulborough).

Despite the Coronavirus lockdown, this year’s Wine GB Awards saw a record number of entries with 281 English and Welsh wines submitted for judging by TV wine experts Susie Barrie and Oz Clarke alongside Rebecca Palmer, wine buyer for leading independent wine merchants Corney & Barrow.

Suzie said: “This year of all years it has been a competition to remember. We cannot overlook the extraordinary circumstances in which we judged and I’d like to thank every single person involved in ensuring the week ran smoothly.

“We three judges tasted some fantastic wines from a large number of producers and from right across the country. There are some very strong winners, both sparkling and still wines, in all categories. It was particularly pleasing to see new producers competing alongside long-established ones, proving that the UK is an ever-growing and hugely exciting region to watch. Congratulations to every single medal winner, you can feel very proud of what you have achieved.”

Sussex can rightly claim to the the epicentre of the English wine industry with well over 80 vineyards now producing across the county.

With a similar climate and soil to the Champagne region of France, the traditional sparkling grapes of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier thrive on the slopes of the South Downs, alongside numerous still varieties including Bacchus and Pinot Gris.

The competition results also show some new and alternative winemaking styles including oak-aged Bacchus and one ‘stop ferment’ wine, as well as wines from many other grape varieties both long-established and new to Great Britain’s vineyards, illustrating the ever-growing scope and variety of production in the industry. One sparkling wine made from the red Merlot grape was awarded a Gold.

The crowning of the Supreme Champion will be announced at a special filmed virtual ceremony on Tuesday, September 8 with the awards being presented by Susie Barrie and Oz Clarke, with author and presenter Peter Richards MW as Master of Ceremonies.