Stopham Estate Vineyard’s story began in 2007 when winemaker Simon Woodhead planted 21,000 vines on the six-hectare (15-acre) vineyard. Stopham Vineyard and Winery is located on the Stopham Estate in the South Downs National Park, near Pulborough.
Simon Woodhead planted Stopham vineyard in 2007 with the aim of making the best English still white wines. This is no easy task, given the rising quality of English and Welsh wines. Better viticultural practices, improved winemaking techniques and technology, international training and increasing temperatures are all contributing to these quality improvements.
Simon was joined by Tom Bartlett in 2010 just in time for the first vintage. Both Simon and Tom studied at Plumpton College in East Sussex, where they became passionate about English wine and developed the belief that we can produce something special from our land.
Each vintage from Stopham Estate tells the story of the changeable Sussex countryside. They only use grapes grown on the estate and nurture their hand-picked vines to craft white wines that offer fruity flavors and crisp natural acidity.
As still wine specialists, most of their production is for exciting white wines based on their Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois and Bacchus grape varieties.
They also make sparkling wine with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winery is also remarkable due to its Grade II listed building, a beautiful Victorian barn, situated in the hamlet of Stopham in the South Downs National Park. The vineyard enjoys stunning views of the South Downs, the River Arun and the Norman church, St Mary The Virgin, which dates back to the 11th Century.
The vineyard site was smartly chosen for its free-draining sandy soil, southerly aspect, low altitude and beautiful location. Vine roots can extend more than 6m in the ground making them drought proof once established. Also, rabbits enjoy burrowing in this sand, so the owners always keep a spade handy in the tractor just in case they come across a hole.
The vines were planted by a specialist planting team from Germany using lasers to guide the planting tractor at precise distances from the preceding row. The spaces between the rows are wide enough to allow good sun exposure.