As the hot weather continues and the sun shines brightly over the Estate, it’s sometimes hard to remember we are in England. I have to keep reminding myself to appreciate the long, summer days as it’s so easy to get used to them and when the weather does eventually break, we will wonder how we could have ever complained of being hot.
The vineyard looked stunning as we saw it while sitting on some folding garden tables and chairs, and we were delighted to show it off to our Hong Kong distributors who were visiting us on the weekend, in anticipation of our launch over there in September. As regular readers will know, I am from Hong Kong, and so it’s going to be a ‘home away from home’ launch and the opportunity to meet up with old (and new) friends and introduce them to our wines.
Talking of introducing people to our wines, the Tasting Room with its Tasting Bar and Restaurant and Cellar Door has been open for about a month, and I have to let you in on a secret – it’s amazing! We have barely promoted it, giving everyone a chance to settle in and get used to it, but already the feedback has been extraordinary with some people already having come in to dine five times!
Mark and I watched jealously from the side lines as we didn’t want to add to the stress by being present as ‘guests’ in the first week. So, it was with great excitement that we ‘got’ a table for dinner one weekend, taking some visitors from New Zealand. “We’ve got a table” I told them over-enthusiastically. “Don’t you own the place?” they replied with typical Kiwi directness, “well, yes… but still…” I added lamely.
The evening didn’t disappoint. We are offering 5 course Land, Sea or Garden tasting menus and I went for the Sea option which included a Dived Scallop wrapped in a Chardonnay Vine Leaf, White Asparagus, Ajo Blanco and Poached Lobster followed by Grilled Cornish Plaice, Squid Ink Gnocchi, Summer Courgette and Swiss Chard. Delicious.
For lunch we offer a delicious 2 or 3 course option (£30 or £35 accordingly) and recently I had a Porthilly Rock Oyster, White Crab with Cucumber, Gooseberry and Elderflower and Line caught Mullet with Globe Artichoke and Onion Tart, Shellfish Aioli and Swiss Chard.
All our food is locally sourced where possible (we forage elderflower on the Estate) and Chris has purposefully hunted out Sussex treasures such as Japanese ingredients from Namayasai Farm – a farm in Lewes run by farming couple Robin Williams and Ikuko Suzuki, lamb from Saddlescombe Farm, 5 miles north of Brighton and our charcuterie is from Beal’s Farm (Chailey, near Lewes) made from Mangalitza pork- a rare heritage breed.
If you don’t have time for a full meal, then please do come and have a tasting. You may well be tempted onto the balcony to sup a glass of Sussex Sparkling whilst having a couple of dishes from our smaller Snack Menu, such as charcuterie and cheeseboards, oysters and the Sussex strawberry meringue with elderflower curd that is going down a storm!
So, as the warm weather continues and you wonder what to do to fill the long, hot days, think of visiting us up at the Estate, you can always justify the food and wine by walking our Trail through the vines before or afterwards.
We are open Wednesdays to Sundays 11-6 for lunches and, Fridays and Saturdays for dinner. We recommend booking.