The Sussex PDO has been Ratified

Rathfinny Classic Cuvée Sussex Sparkling Neck Label
Classic Cuvée Foil with Rathfinny Shield

‘Sussex’ is Officially a Protected Designation of Origin

15th June 2022

We are delighted to announce that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has approved the registration of ‘Sussex’ as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for wine under the new UK Geographical Indication (GI) scheme. Thereby protecting the name Sussex for quality wines that are made in both East and West Sussex, status similar to the other wine growing regions around the world such at Burgundy and Champagne, Rioja and Tuscany. This new PDO will give consumers of any wine labelled as ‘Sussex’ a sense of provenance but also a mark of quality.

Wines labelled as ‘Sussex’ must pass a stringent analytical test and qualitative analysis by an independent tasting panel. In the case of Sussex Sparkling wines, this means that the wine must have been aged in the bottle for a minimum of 15 months, before release, and the wines are assessed for their clarity, aroma, taste and the characteristics of their bubbles.

It is worth noting, this legislation is completely removed from Brexit. The original application was granted approval by DEFRA prior to the referendum in 2016. But it required EU ratification, and because the UK chose to leave the EU it was delayed until now. This whole process has taken seven years, but Sussex Wineries are delighted to finally win recognition for Sussex as a wine growing region.

The change does not eliminate other producers of ‘English’ wine in Hampshire, Kent, Dorset, Cornwall and so on from producing high quality wines, but the PDO ensures that if you purchase a ‘Sussex’ wine, not only will you be sure of its provenance but also of its quality. As Simon Thorpe the CEO of WineGB stated, This is a great step forward for English Wine. This PDO application is a nod to the future of PDOs in England and Wales.”

The ambition is that in ten years’ time you will walk into a restaurant in New York, Beijing and Tokyo and the bartender asks you – “Would you like a glass of Champagne or can I recommend a delicious glass of Sussex.”

Mark and Sarah Driver

Wines of style can be imitated and even bettered, but wines of place can’t.”  Dr Jamie Goode (Wine Writer)

FAQs

What makes Sussex so special for growing grapes and making wine?

We have what the French call a great terroir in Sussex – a perfect combination of soil, climate and people. The high quality soils are influenced by the South Downs. Many of the vineyards in Sussex are on South Downs chalk or the sandstone to the north – the same band of chalk that runs across the channel around Paris and through Champagne. This is combined with an ideal climate that is slightly warmer and dryer than the rest of the UK and a passionate community of great people who make Sussex wines.

Are all Sussex winemakers involved?

This petition started with a collection of Sussex winemakers who submitted the application in 2015 and we’re delighted that we now have more than 50 winemakers in Sussex.

We believe that the name Sussex will become synonymous with high quality sparkling, so when you go into a bar in London, New York, Beijing, or Tokyo you will be asked –

“Would you like a glass of Champagne or a delicious glass of Sussex?”

The Sussex PDO will be a marque of quality, giving consumers an assurance of Quality as well as Provenance.

Can all Sussex winemakers use the PDO?

Only those winemakers based in East and West Sussex, meeting the quality standards will be able to use the name Sussex on their wine labels.

What rules exist for winemaking under the Sussex PDO?

The Sussex PDO limits the grape varieties that can be used to make ‘Sussex’ wines. It insists  upon hand harvesting and restrict yields in the vineyards, ensuring that only the best grapes are used to make Sussex wines. These stricter winemaking rules also include a qualitative assessment and longer bottle ageing for Sussex sparkling wine.

What’s happened to the previously held Trademark on the name Sussex Wine?

All wines are known for the region they come from and ours is Sussex. We wanted to ensure that only quality wines are produced that have the name Sussex on the label, so in 2012 we decided to apply for a trademark for Sussex until the PDO was established. That Trademark is now held by the Sussex Wineries.