Where to buy the best locally produced tipples – East Sussex based Vineyards, Breweries and Cider
In recent years locally grown and locally sourced food and drink has seen an ever growing increase in popularity. Here in East Sussex, vineyards, orchards and hop farms are all able to benefit from our natural resources including chalky soil, warm climate and south facing slopes. Our county now produces some incredible high–end wines, beers and ciders with several being based right here! I’ve really enjoyed chatting to a few of our most local producers hearing about how their businesses got started, plans for the future and tales of national and even international awards and recognition. So whether you’re into scrumpy, fizz or bitter there’s a tipple for everyone here. Cheers to drinking local produce – I’ll drink to that!
Tickerage, in the pretty village of Blackboys, is a boutique family owned and run vineyard making award winning still and sparkling wine as well as a traditional method Cyder. From 5 acres under vines Zena and Anthony handcraft their gold and silver award winning wines including a Rosé, Blanc de Blancs and Classic Cuvée. Their latest developments include a White Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the latter has recently been awarded Silver by the independent and prestigious IEWA.
As a small local operation, Zena and Anthony really do appreciate the support of local wine enthusiasts. They take pride in creating and delivering their bespoke Tickerage sets, which come with complimentary gift wrapping in a range of lovely packages, free local delivery and a vineyard card with a personalised message of your choice. When it’s not lockdown, Tickerage also offer private tours and tastings of their range. They are currently open for local and nationwide deliveries of their award winning Tickerage wines as well as collections by arrangement.
Image courtesy of Rebecca Downie Photography
Beacon Down vineyard occupies 18 acres of the beautiful High Weald in Cross in Hand. A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the vineyard is set on gentle South East facing slopes with stunning views over to Eastbourne and the South Downs.
Paul & Al were living in London, having a what if? conversation about their dream of owning a vineyard. In 2014, they took the plunge, following Paul’s Diploma in Wine Production from Plumpton College. Two fields on the site were planted with nearly 10,000 vines in May 2015 and have thrived on the sandstone slopes and Sussex sunshine. Since then, Paul and Al have created a range of award winning still and sparkling wines, including a Blanc de Noirs English Sparkling wine, and a unique medium-sweet Riesling.
Set amidst bluebell-strewn woodland on the outskirts of Uckfield, Bluebell Vineyard Estates is a family run vineyard and winery with a passion for producing world class still and sparkling wines. The site, which was once home to thousands of pigs, is now home to over 100, 000 vines growing premium quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines along with Seyval Blanc, Bacchus, Ortega Chasselas and Merlot. The vineyard now produces world-class wines with their range of ‘Hindleap’ sparkling wines receiving over 60 national and international awards in just 5 years! Bluebell Vineyard’s wines are currently available to buy online via their website where you can also find out about their tasting days and vineyard tours.
Bignose & Beardy (otherwise known as Phil and Steve) have been making cider in Framfield since 2014. All of their fruit is from East Sussex, most from within ten miles of Framfield. It’s very much local cider taking much of its style from the local soil and weather patterns on the Sussex Weald. 90% of their fruit was gifted to them this year (in exchange for cider via their apple appeal) and comes from gardens and small private orchards! They run open picking days inviting families to join the fun, picking fruit in the autumn sunshine with a BBQ and pressing demos between harvesting. Once harvested the fruit is crushed in a traditional water powered press and then left to ferment. They don’t pasteurise, filter, dilute, carbonate or indeed do anything to interfere with the natural processes. Each tank produces a unique batch and even tanks from the same orchard turn out differently according to the chaotic mix of wild yeasts and bacteria at work. All Bignose and Beardy ciders are small batch and very limited editions. Whether you prefer sweet, dry, oaky or a pear perry there’s a cider for everyone. They offer free local delivery during lockdown so do check them out.
With their brewery being based in a stunning 17th Century barn in Eridge Good Things Brewing officially sits just over the East Sussex border. However with their beers sporting Sussex inspired names such as The Ashdown and a reputation for developing progressively sustainable brewing methods these guys certainly seem worthy of a mention. Good Things have created a cutting edge brewery using their own power thanks to a field of solar panels, while pulling their own water from the ground right outside the brewery doors. They also aim to create as little waste as possible by turning spent grain into flour, making deliveries in electric vans and are currently developing plans to treat their own waste on site. The Good Things team are incredibly forward thinking – keep your eyes peeled for more exciting things to come including taster days, brewery tours and pop up events across Kent and Sussex.
Three Acre Brewery based in Blackboys opened in 2019, founded by three old friends – Jamie, Peter and Chester. Three Acre brews traditional ale styles, inspired by the rich brewing history of Sussex, using modern hops and grains. Their most popular beer is their Best Bitter, and they tell me they’ve struggled to brew enough of it lately! They have just released bottles of all five of their delicious beers, and they offer free local delivery, too.