A Sussex golf estate is taking a different approach to greenkeeping – by turning the nine holes of its course into a vineyard.
Mannings Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate in West Sussex will be planting a vineyard on the site next year, looking to produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes to make fizz of the moment – English sparkling wine.
Teaming up with South African winery Benguela Cove – a leading producer and wine destination in the Cape's Walker Bay – Mannings will be the latest showcase for the producer's wines, offering tastings and food pairings in its old manor house.
The vineyard, set to be 45 acres, will grow some 150 tonnes of grapes for the sparkling wine. Speaking to Imbibe, Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director for English Wine Producers, revealed: 'The South East has fast become a serious area for viticulture and winemaking. In the last decade alone, plantings have doubled across the country, and much of it over the south east – stretching from Kent to Hampshire, taking in Sussex and Surrey.'
'Much of this is due to the really excellent conditions in much of the region that is just right for growing grapes: great climate, good temperatures and great terroir,' she concluded. 'It's exciting times!'
Benefiting from a location near the ocean on the southern coast, the estate's growing conditions are said to be unique. A south-easterly breeze chilled by the Benguela Current flowing up from Antarctica cools the grapes at night, which are also irrigated by an above-average rainfall. The vineyards will planted on the exposed cooler slopes of the estate, with a terroir that is rich in clay and calcium.
'We are developing a new attraction at Mannings Heath around wine tours and tastings, food pairings and top cuisine,' says Mannings' managing director Penny Streeter OBE. 'The concept is a great success for us in South Africa, and the UK is ready for it now, with the growing interest in wine, and particularly English sparkling wines. We're opening a new wine tasting bar and planning the vineyard, winery and a new restaurant on site.'