The story of West Sussex’s Wiston Estate, from award winning wines to offering fine dining at its Chalk Restaurant
It would be fair to say that a disused turkey shed may not be the most obvious site for a winery, but this is where the Wiston Estate wines began their existence. For winemaker Dermot Sugrue, the old farm near Washington in West Sussex was ideal; close to the vineyards and with enough room to house a traditional coquard press from Champagne.
This beautiful piece of winemaking equipment, which presses the grapes very slowly and carefully, preserving their delicate aromas and flavours, has become an icon of the Wiston Winery – is the only one of its kind in the UK and one of very few which exist outside Champagne. Sure enough, not long after Wiston’s first wines were released, they began receiving international plaudits that have continued through to today – 2021 saw the winery named ‘Winery of the Year’ by WineGB for the third time.
The transformation is open for all to see – the recent refurbishment has dramatically enhanced the space and the coquard press remains the centre-piece of the winery. It is used to extract grape juice for the very best wines made at Wiston – such as the Estate Cuvée – which comes from the original vineyard planted in 2006. The juices are then allowed to ferment in aged Burgundy oak barrels, which give the wines a beautiful texture and smooth mouthfeel.
There are lots of options for wine tours and tastings at Wiston. The classic Wiston Tour & Tasting runs Tuesday–Sunday at 11am and 2.30pm, which is a great introduction to the world of Wiston. The Vineyard Safari Tour is a more luxurious option – including tasting the full Wiston portfolio of wines and a trip over the hills to the original secluded vineyard, hidden away in the South Downs. And for those looking to combine a tour with dinner on selected evenings in the summer there is the Sundowner Tour & Dinner.
As Dermot Sugrue says: “Seeing the vineyard in the late summer afternoon, and tasting the wines which have come from the vines you are in the midst of, is a very special experience.” After the tour and tasting guests enjoy dinner at Chalk Restaurant, which serves a delicious set menu on Friday and Saturday evenings.
For more information and to book, please visit wistonestate.com