Twelve local vineyards are joining forces with Wealden District Council to unveil the new Explore Wealden Wine Trail.

The exciting initiative aims to raise awareness of Wealden’s vineyards, invites visitors to embark on a journey through the new Explore Wealden Wine Trail by visiting award-winning Sussex vineyards, offering wine tastings and picnics, vineyard tours, nature trails and special events.

The project aims to improve pride in place, invest in communities and support local businesses.

Sussex’s vibrant viticulture scene has attracted significant attention in recent years, with its production of premium-quality still and sparkling wines gaining praise both domestically and internationally.

This new Explore Wealden Wine Trail celebrates the people, places and passion behind every bottle, showcasing the diversity and excellence of the area’s burgeoning wine industry.

From large wine estates to undiscovered hidden gems nestled amid the stunning Sussex Weald, the new trail features twelve vineyards which are open to the public and offer the opportunity to explore the art and science of winemaking for enthusiasts of all levels.

Vineyards participating in the Explore Wealden Wine Trail are as follows:

  1. Beacon Down occupies 18 acres of the beautiful High Weald Heathfield. A designated High Weald National Landscape, the vineyard is set on gentle south east facing slopes with stunning views.  Planted in May 2015 by Paul and Alice Pippard, the vines have thrived in the Sussex sunshine and their sparkling wines have won several awards; their Blanc De Blancs 2017 won the Harpers ‘Star of England’ award in 2022.   You can expect a warm welcome in a relaxed atmosphere, and soon you will be able to enjoy the delights of a new farm shop and café.  Their five-star rated tours and picnics are second-to-none, and the breathtaking views out to the south coast shouldn’t be missed!
  1. Bluebell Vineyard Estates is one of England’s leading producers with over 100,000 vines growing premium quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, Seyval Blanc, Bacchus, Ortega, Chasselas and Merlot grapes. Their ‘Hindleap’ sparkling and ‘Ashdown’ still wines have been recognised in over a hundred national and international awards and can rival the best in the world. In 2023, their Ashdown Chasselas 2020 – England’s Only Commercial Chasselas – won bronze in Mondial Du Chasselas, a competition of wines from countries who have been growing it for decades. Last year also saw the vineyard triumph in three prestigious wine competitions: Decanter, WineGB and IWC (International Wine Challenge).
  1. Coes Farm was formerly owned by Lisa-Marie Presley and this family-run estate near Rotherfield now features an organic vineyard – their first wine and ciders are being released this year (2024). Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier grapes have been planted to make Traditional Method wine, whilst Pinot Gris and Sauvignac have been planted for still wines. Biodynamic preparations are used on the land – the oldest part of the estate dates to the 16th Recent additions include a micro-winery and luxury tourism accommodation.
  1. Downsview Vineyard, nestled in the High Weald is run by husband-and-wife team Katy and Toby Spiers who met as wine students in 2005. There is a hobby sized vineyard and off grid winery.  The wines are small batch and crafted by hand across sparkling and still wines using organic principles where possible.  The setting is rustic, unstuffy and as grass roots wine producers believe in old fashioned hospitality.  They believe wine should be fun!
  1. In the Loop Drinks, located at Downsview Vineyard, specialises in IWSC award-winning English Vermouth, made from English wine and predominately fresh botanicals. In the Loop work with English wine that would otherwise go to waste, giving it new life as Vermouth and keeping it in the circular economy a.k.a In the Loop.  The Vermouth style is wine-led and flavourful, creating a range that is delightful neat as well as mixed into classic cocktails.  Their extra dry Vermouth is perfect in a Martini and the semi-sweet red Vermouth makes a great Manhattan.
  1. Henners Vineyard established near the picturesque village of Herstmonceux in 2007 overlooks the Pevensey Levels Nature Reserve, just five miles from the sea. Planted with the three classic sparkling grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the vineyard is in one of the driest, sunniest pockets of England. It benefits from a strong coastal influence, low elevation and rich, free-draining clay soils making the site ideally suited to produce quality sparkling and still wines. Wines are fermented and bottled on-site, with Vintages only crafted in exceptional years, when the concentration, ripeness and maturity of fruit will deliver a wine for extended ageing.  Henners opened their Cellar Door in 2022 which features an indoor tasting room and two beautiful outdoor terraces that overlook the vineyard and the Pevensey Levels.
  1. Hidden Spring is situated on a 23 acre small-holding in Horam, just outside Heathfield. Richard and Sara Asman took ownership of Hidden Spring Vineyard in early 2022 after relocating back to the UK from South Africa.  Since the vineyard was established in 1986, it has experienced many years of successful, high-quality wine production and has recently won a number of Bronze and Silver Wine GB Awards.  Today, there are 24,000 vines of five grape varieties across 5.2 hectares.
  1. Mousehall Country Estate lies within the High Weald near Mayfield. Mousehall was first recorded in the Doomsday book in 1086.  In September 2017, Gary and Kathy Jordan, owners of Jordan Wine Estate in South Africa brought the former farm back to life converting an abandoned barn into what is now their Distillery & Winery, one of the first Distilleries in a Winery in the UK.  Its award-winning spirits are produced at Mousehall in a 400L traditional copper pot still, Amahle, meaning “the Beautiful one”.  Their first wines are to be released this year.
  1. Off The Line Vineyard Partners Kristina Studzinski and Ann-Marie Tynan established Off The Line Vineyard on a south-facing site on the lower slopes of the Weald in 2014, with the aim of growing grapes and making original English rosé wines on site in a modern, purpose-built winery.  Today they have achieved their vision, retaining a strong focus on sustainability on a site rich in biodiversity. No animal products are used to make the wines which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.  The vineyard’s name comes from its location adjacent to the Cuckoo Trail greenway –formerly a steam railway line!
  1. Rathfinny Wine Estate Founded in 2010 by husband and wife Mark and Sarah Driver, Rathfinny is dedicated to producing some of the world’s finest sparkling wine. The vineyard comprises over 230 acres of predominantly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. In April 2023, Rathfinny became the first sparkling wine grower-producer in the world to achieve B Corp status. They adopted sustainable technologies such as photovoltaic cells, which power the Winery, and wastewater recycling. The Estate is self-sufficient on water, nearly self-sufficient on energy and all the buildings are built with materials sourced from the local area. In addition to producing wine, the Rathfinny Wine Estate has become a popular destination for wine tourism. The RIBA nominated Winery is home to the Cellar Door shop and The Tasting Room restaurant – under the direction of Michelin-starred Head chef Chris Bailey.
  1. Tickerage Vineyard and Winery In 2007, this family-owned and run vineyard planted 8,000 vines on five acres of north facing slopes on the edge of the Sussex Weald – primarily comprising Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes perfect for quality sparkling wine production. A purpose-built winery and pressing centre enables the small team to combine contemporary innovation with respected artisanal winemaking skills. Tickerage wine is only released in small batch runs to ensure that every bottle is an exquisite experience.  Sparkling wine is made in the Traditional Method and spends at least five years ageing to create the most complex flavours.
  1. The Secret Vineyard Featuring vines nestled in between lakes and ancient woodland in the village of Herstmonceux, this is an artisan producer where everything is done by hand. The vineyard sits on a sunny ridge and has well drained soil of sandstone over clay. Sisters Vicky & Helen Tate, the third generation in their family to run a business on the site, have embarked upon an exciting new chapter growing vines and making wine. A mixture of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grapes have been planted to make still and sparkling wine. Sustainability lies at the heart of the business, including the label which is even made from recycled grape leaves!
  1. Wildwood Vineyard This multi-award winning, family owned vineyard is located in Eridge, southwest of Tunbridge Wells. Planted in 2016, the vineyard is off-grid, using sustainable practices to grow Bacchus, Pinot Noir and Regent grapes which are tended by hand to create premium quality still and sparkling English Wines. These include the aromatic Bishop Odo Bacchus, the mouthwatering Eagle Ridge Pinot Noir rosé, their light bodied fruity Thieving Badger Regent red, plus Blanc de Noirs and Rosé de Noirs Traditional Method fizz, and a Pink Vermouth. Accessible by all means of public transport, you can even arrive on a heritage steam train via the Spa Valley Railway.

A council spokesperson said: “We are thrilled to launch the Explore Wealden Wine Trail in partnership with our local vineyards. This initiative not only showcases the exceptional quality of Sussex wines but also underscores the significant economic potential of viticulture and wine tourism to the district.”

Explore the Wealden Wine Trail at