South Downs Wine
Enjoy some of England’s finest sparkling and white wines produced by award-winning, local vineyards.
The vineyards owe their success and inspiration to the chalky soils and fine climate providing a unique ‘flavour of the South Downs’. In fact, grapes have been growing in this area, which is very similar to the Champagne region in France, since Roman times.
Learn how sparkling wine is made at the Rathfinney Wine Estate, on the sun-soaked south-facing slopes of the South Downs near the historic village of Alfriston, and explore the Rathfinny Trail.
Tours start at the Gun Room, reputed to have been the Duke of Wellington’s gun room. Here you can also visit the Alfriston Heritage Centre and learn more about the fascinating history of medieval Alfriston and the growing English wine industry. Tours can be booked online or purchased at the Gun Room, but do check in advance
Afterwards, relax over a lunch of fresh locally sourced ingredients complemented with a glass of English sparkling wine. Spend a few more hours in the afternoon exploring the ancient village of Alfriston with its oak-beamed inns and narrow twittens. Visit the Clergy House, a pretty medieval cottage and the first property bought by the National Trust.
|Distance||12 miles along the Sussex Ouse Valley Way then the South Downs Way (walkers), 14 miles on South Downs Way (cyclists) from Lewes railway station to Alfriston|
|Duration||A half day, can be extended to a full day|
|Directions – Bus||From Lewes bus station, the 125 (Compass Bus Mon-Fri or Cuckmere Buses on Sat) to Alfriston coach park takes just over a half hour.
|Directions – Train||The nearest railway station is Berwick. Then take the bus to Alfriston (38, 47, 125, 126) or walk 3 miles along the Vanguard Way. Turn right into the access way next to the Berwick railway station, opposite the Berwick Inn. Walk to the right side of the warehouse and follow the bridleway to the centre of Alfriston until you reach The Gun Room.|
|Directions – Walk||
|Directions – Cycle||
The vineyards owe their success and inspiration to the chalky soils and fine climate providing a unique ‘flavour of the South Downs’. In fact, grapes have been growing in the area, which is very similar to the Champagne region in France, since Roman times.
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Walk the Vanguard Way to and visit Berwick Church to admire the extensive murals painted during the Second World War by the Bloomsbury artists, Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell. Or follow the South Downs Way eastwards and view the mysterious Long Man of Wilmington guarding the landscape of the South Downs.
EXTEND YOUR VISIT
Stay another day and cycle the South Downs Way from Lewes to Ditchling Beacon on the BIRD’S EYE VIEW and visit the family run Ridgeview Wine Estate near the pretty village of Ditchling. Winner of several national and international sparkling wine awards, Ridgeview has been chosen as the official suppliers for Downing Street receptions. Pre-booking a tour is recommended, as they do sell out.
- Rathfinney Wine Estate
- Clergy House
- Berwick Church
- Ditchling Beacon
- Long Man of Wilmington
- Ditchling Beacon
- Ridgeview Wine Estate