Sussex’s newest vineyard had its official ‘launch’ this week as 38,000 vines were planted at Mannings Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate.
The 100-year-old golf course was bought last year by Zimbabwe-born Penny Streeter OBE with the aim to create a place ‘very accessible to the public for wine, food and golf’.
In order to find room for the vineyard, one of the club’s two 18-hole courses (the Kingfisher) was made into a nine-hole course.
Viticulturist Duncan McNeil is managing the planting of the vines.
He said: The limited factor in UK viticulture is lack of heat. The location was selected for its steep slope, sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds to maximise the intensity of the sun’s rays.”
The Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes will be ready to make sparkling wine in 2020 with the first bottles available in 2023.
Mannings Heath Golf Course and Wine Estate is a division of The Benguela Collection, a wine producer and hospitality group that Penny Streeter started, with the acquisition in 2013 of the Benguela Cove vineyard in South Africa.
The wines produced are currently showcased at Mannings Heath which features a new restaurant and wine tasting bar, hosting wine-themed events, including food pairings with chocolate and cheese, open to the public all year round.
Johann Fourie was appointed last year as Cellar Master for Benguela Cove wines in South Africa and at Mannings Heath, to manage the selection of vineyard sites and grow the grapes, plan both wineries and oversee the wine-making.
At the launch last week Penny Streeter planted one of the vines.
She said: “We are recreating a South African-style wine tourism experience, where people can enjoy a day out in a beautiful parkland estate, with fine wines, good food and events programme.”
To ensure visitors enjoy a fine dining experience, Mannings Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate General Manager Adam Streeter (Penny’s son) brought in excutive chef Nick McAllister who has worked at top dining establishments across London, Surrey and Sussex dishing up mouth-watering menus from all corners of the globe.
As well as shortening the Kingfisher golf course, there have been plenty of changes to the golfing side at Mannings Heath, with some holes redesigned, an upgrade of practice facilities and the building of a new pro shop.