Gail Gardner from Ashling Park, in West Sussex near Chichester first thought of going into wine while lying on a beach only last year – with 10 acres of land just five miles away from South Downs national park and 3 miles from the coast, her family home seemed the perfect location.
Not being farmers or agricultural experts Gail has surrounded herself by experts in order to produce the best possible sparkling. One of these is winemaker Dermot Sugrue (who is widely credited with putting English sparkling wine on the map). Dermot has a rather reassuring past – after crafting vintages in both Bordeaux and Champagne he joined Nyetimber in 2003 and oversaw its emergence as one of the world’s greatest sparklers. He also works on nearby Wiston estate. He says of West Sussex “It’s an amazing place to make sparkling wines – the chalk soils on the South Downs are perfectly suited to it”. With a blend of 50% chardonnay, 30% pinot noir and 30% meunier, Gail is confident they will end up with some great tasting fizz. And despite being someone for who alcohol never really agreed with, Gail is passionate about England’s crusade. She says, “We are just 88 miles from the Champagne region and with our climate and soil I really want everyone to know that we can do it just as well as the French.”