Horsham, West Sussex will be home to the latest English vineyard thanks to Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur Penny Streeter OBE.
Streeter was awarded the OBE for services to enterprise in 2006 and hasn't slowed down since, buying the Mannings Heath site in 2016 with the aim to develop the UK’s first golf and wine estate.
Mannings Heath Golf Club & Wine Estate is now planting 38,000 vines. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes will be ready to make sparkling wines as soon as 2020, with the first bottles available three years later.
'We are recreating a South African-style wine tourism experience, where people can enjoy a day out in a beautiful parkland estate, with fine wines, good food and an entertaining events programme,' Streeter said.
A Benguela Brasserie and wine tasting bar will host wine-themed events at the 100-year-old clubhouse at Mannings Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate.
One of the club’s two 18-hole courses was converted to 9 holes last year to make space available to cultivate the new vineyard.
'English wine continues to build a reputation for excellence; this is the perfect time to be investing in a new Sussex vineyard,' Streeter added.
'The limiting factor in UK viticulture is lack of heat: the location was selected for its steep slope, sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds, to maximise the intensity of the sun's rays,' viticulturist Duncan McNeil said. 'The soil is a deep silty, sandy loam over a sandstone subsoil, which will encourage a full expression of fruit flavours as the grapes develop.'
The estate will plant a further 16,000 vines over 15 acres in 2018 to produce Chardonnay grapes, for a total planned production of 150 tonnes in 2020, processed in a new winery on site.