WINES produced in Sussex have been added to a list of food and drink products given geographically protected status.

The announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will give Sussex still and sparkling wines a Protected Designation of Origin designation (PDO), giving them the same legal status as Jersey Royal potatoes, Cornish clotted cream and Stilton cheese.

Under the designation, still and sparkling wines can only be called "Sussex" if they are grown in the region, which encompasses the counties of East and West Sussex, and meet certain conditions, including being made in a traditional method from classic wine grape varieties grown in Sussex.

The application was first made by winemakers in the county in 2015 and is the latest British product to be granted the special status.

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, welcomed the news and said: “Sussex wines have become extremely popular in recent years and this designation will only help spread awareness of Sussex as a wine-producing region and increase demand for these brilliant products.

“We have some fantastic local vineyards in the Lewes constituency, including Rathfinny, Breaky Bottom, Plumpton, and Ridgeview along with many others across Sussex who make beautiful wines.

“Sussex wine will be joining the family of special products which includes Scotch whisky, Welsh lamb and Herefordshire cider.”

Sussex wines will enter the register from July 5.

In a letter to Ms Caulfield, food and farming minister Victoria Prentis said: “Geographical indication status provides a guarantee to consumers that the product they are buying is the real thing and prevent imitation products.

“The recognition means Sussex wine joins the family of registered products from across the UK and beyond, and will help Sussex PDO wine producers communicate the excellence of their product to consumers.

“This news will further boost jobs, skills and the local economy.”

However, the designation has prompted some anger from winemakers in neighbouring Kent, who have branded the status as a “marketing exercise”.

Speaking to the Telegraph, founder and owner of Woodchurch Wine Estate in Ashford Graham Barbour said: “It tells you nothing about the geographical features of a particular vineyard or the quality of the wine.

“Some Kent vineyards share the same geographical features as parts of Sussex, so it’s meaningless to lump everything together under one arbitrary county designation.

“The whole idea of a Sussex PDO is a joke, but perhaps I would say that.”

Wine has been produced in Sussex for around 2,000 years, with over 50 vineyards across the county.