Set in Pulborough in the beautiful South Downs, rich with history and thus a story to tell, is Stopham estate. Between the vineyard and Grade II listed barn is a beautiful 13th century church, and quaint cottages. It is in the middle of nowhere, making this estate a true little fairy tale haven complete with their own majestic tree amongst the vines, and a fence to stop deer from bustling in.
Winemaking Director and scientist of the business, Simon Woodhead, ventured into the world of making wines after studying viticulture at Plumpton Agricultural College.
Woodhead was one of the first winemakers to produce aromatic still white English wines, planting the vineyard in 2007.
Turning up to the estate, we were blessed with a sunny day, and looking out to the unobstructed views of greenery was a scene of pure peace. We met Marie, wine expert and manager, who led us into the barn. Bottling was taking place, meaning we had stumbled right into the manufacturing action. But before any grapes touch the machines, they of course have to be grown. So back out into the sunshine we went, stepping into the vineyard to begin our tour.
While we strolled through the grass, weaving up and down vines, we pointed at butterflies and wildflowers that nestled amongst the grapes. Marie informed us about the idyllic climates for growth, and how Stopham values sustainability in their methods. She pointed out the free draining sandy soil and explained that the grapes are harvested in October. It was all very fascinating, but I will not reveal too many details as that is best left to the experts!
The beautiful still whites that these grapes produce are Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Bacchus grape varieties.
Stopham also makes sparkling wine with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. As we were led through the greenery and shown the different grapes, we came across the large Mediterranean Pine tree (the one illustrated on the Stopham logo) overlooking the grapes in what felt like a protective manner. We had to avoid rabbit burrows as we stepped, enhancing the sense of romance in the estate. At the top of the hill, looking down the south-facing slopes, is a view worth visiting Stopham for alone.
Back at the winery, Marie showed us the technology that is used to transform the grapes into wine. We were most impressed by the fact that every bottle of wine is grown, pressed, fermented and bottled right on site. Therefore, with every wine purchased, you are guaranteed the highest quality produce made with pure care and passion.
Then, we were lucky enough to try the wines, starting with the Bacchus which we found the most aromatic and flavoursome. It smelt florally and sweet enough to wear as a perfume and tasted just as lovely. The Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc were also delicious, and so smooth that they could be drunk with a dangerous ease.
Currently, Stopham is stocked in Hennings, Waitrose, Grape Britannia and are also found on the wine list at Ockenden Manor, South Lodge Hotel, English’s of Brighton and Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa to name a few.
They are also available to purchase on the Stopham website. In the near future I am sure Stopham wine will be available in many more prestigious enterprises as it becomes clear how luxurious this product really is for its passion, precision, craft and sustainable values.This is what is written on the bottle after all.
Vineyard tours and tasting takes place at 11am and 2pm on Saturdays, and be sure to take home a bottle. While you are guaranteed to leave having tried some delightful wine, you will also have a new found love and appreciation for the real treasures we have hidden right here in the South Downs.
Stopham Pinot Blanc 2022 (12% abv) – Our Pinot Blanc is dry with pear and primrose on the nose and pink grapefruit, honeydew melon and sweet fennel on the palate. It has zippy acidity balanced by a touch of sweetness which lasts well into the lengthy finish. Excellent with smoked fish and goat’s cheese.
Stopham Pinot Gris 2022 (12% abv) – A best-seller, consistently winning the best still white award at the independent English wines awards (IEWA) competition. Off-dry with aromatic peach and pear fruit alongside the tropical fruit character on the nose. On the palate, this has excellent balance with crisp acidity. It is fairly full in body, with plenty of juicy fruit intensity, but is refreshing and long, with a lively citrus and stone fruit finish. Excellent with spicy dishes, roast pork or as an aperitif.
Stopham Bacchus 2022 (12.5% abv) – Our Bacchus is dry with elegant aromatics on the nose, elderflower, nettle and rose petal meet pink grapefruit and orange peel on the palate. It has moderate acidity balanced by a touch of sweetness which lasts well into the finish. Can be enjoyed as an aperitif or excellent with fish curry, asparagus tart and pan fried sea bass.
Stopham Sparkling Brut Prestige 2018 (12.5%) – Our Stopham Brut Prestige has aromas of baked apples, cream and sweet brioche on the nose, On the palate, this traditional method sparkling wine has delicious flavours of honey, almond, grapefruit and citrus fruits Serve with seafood, fish & chips, shellfish, vegetable sushi or truffle fries.
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