Sparkling hands rewarded


Local vineyard “Charles Palmer Vineyards” has won best overall drinks winner at the National Trust’s Fine Farm Produce Awards for the 2010 Brut Sparkling Wine.

The awards, now in their 10th year, celebrate the food, drink and produce grown on National Trust land and farms. In a sparkling event held at Selfridges rooftop restaurant in London, the Palmer family was presented with the award.

The sparkling wine is made exclusively from hand-selected grapes grown in the family vineyard at Wickham Manor Farm in Winchelsea. The first vines were planted back in 2006, turning part of the working farm into a vineyard at a time when sparkling wine first started to be taken seriously alongside champagne.

In February, you will find staff braving wind and frost as we prune each of the 11,000 vines by hand ready for the year ahead.  And, throughout July, 40% of the leaves are removed, also by hand, to make sure the grapes receive as much sunlight and air as possible.

Then, finally, in October, when the fruit’s acidity and sugar levels are just right, you will find the team tirelessly harvesting the grapes (also by hand).

All this care and dedication comes together in the bottle, where the wines are left to slowly ferment for up to three and a half years before being cellared for a further six months.

It is a truly artisanal approach to wine-making that is earning Charles Palmer Vineyards a reputation as one of England’s most exciting sparkling wine producers – although we dedicate our success to the earth and air of the East Sussex coast more than anything.

Being so close to the sea we get a maritime effect, where the sun’s reflection heats the air. Yet we’re sheltered from the cooling coastal breeze by a ridge of hills. And underneath our feet, our subsoil is fundamentally the same as they have in Burgundy.

A tenant of the National Trust since 1998, some of the land was turned into a vineyard back in 2006, and we now have 15 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines.

This is the first time the vineyard has entered the Fine Farm Produce Awards. The 2009 vintage has already won Critic’s Choice and a Gold Award at the prestigious Sommelier Wine Awards.

From the outset, it wasn’t just about growing grapes for us. It was about making top-quality wines and selling them. Winning an award like this will really help us achieve that. For more information visit or email 

Photo: Charles Palmer

Image Credits: CharlesPalmerVineyards .

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