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I remember our first harvest particularly well; we were still picking Bacchus grapes after dark and, as our electricity hadn't yet been connected, we were running on site lights and a generator to process themSimon Woodhead - Stopham
When Simon Woodhead left his Formula 1 engineering career at McLaren to do a Spanish language course in Madrid, he didn't know he would end up planting a Sussex vineyard.
It was in Spain that Simon caught the wine bug and initially he planned to import Spanish wines into the UK.
He subsequently enrolled on a Wine Production and Business course at Plumpton Agricultural College near Lewes, Sussex.
Once at Plumpton, surrounded by English wine enthusiasts, Simon's passion for nature and agriculture inspired him to plant his own vineyard and make English wine.
The art and science behind fining, blending and balancing wine appealed greatly to his creative side.
Then, by chance, at a friend's house party in the little West Sussex village of Stopham, Simon spotted a fallow south-facing sandy field, perfect for growing grapes and it wasn't long before in spring 2007, Simon planted 21,000 vines in a 20 acres field.
The old Stopham dairy, a dilapidated Grade II listed Victorian barn, was renovated for the winery and Tom Bartlett, another Plumpton graduate from a wine retail background, joined Simon in time for the first vintage in 2010.
I remember our first harvest particularly well; we were still picking Bacchus grapes after dark and,
as our electricity hadn't yet been connected, we were running on site lights and a generator to process themTom Bartlett
It has been harder than I imagined, but the challenge of creating a special English wine is extremely satisfying. Although we are relative newcomers, we have received a number of accolades and were very proud and honoured to have our wine chosen to be served on the Royal Barge at The Queen's Diamond JubileeSimon Woodhead
I'm impressed by Stopham Estate's (a vineyard near Pulborough) Pinot Gris 2013, which has a charming spiciness to it, fruity and just a touch off dry. Delicious