As part of our series of features on Sussex vineyards, we spoke to Collette O’Leary at Bluebell Vineyard in Furners Green, East Sussex.

Collette says: “Sussex is one of the driest and warmest areas in England, with a ‘semi-continental climate’ and average rainfall typically between 600 to 850mm per annum. This means the grapes have a longer growing season, which enables the grapes to mature to full phenolic ripeness and provides ideal growing conditions for Traditional Method quality sparkling wine production. In addition, winemaking skills in Sussex have developed rapidly over recent years, bolstered by the expansion of Plumpton College, a centre of excellence for wine education located in Sussex.

“Over the years we have enabled our wines to age on their yeast lees for extended periods, which is allowing us to develop a more mature, complex style of wine. In the vineyard and winery we have meticulous attention to detail and a philosophy to ‘let the fruit do the talking’, which helps us produce wines that evoke the flavours and aromas of England – such as apples, pears, strawberries, roses and elderflowers. We produce hand crafted, quality wines bursting with fruit character – wines with personality. All our wines are fruit-driven, vintage wines, marked by their freshness and are classified as Brut.

“In spring the vineyard starts to come back to life and we are waiting for bud burst – the emergence of the first green shoots in spring. This is also when we start to see the bluebells appear in the woods and visitors are welcome to take a walk around the vineyard and surrounding woodland.”

For details about Bluebell vineyard or to book a tour, visit Bluebell