Wonderful Wiston at Christmas

Treat yourselves to a glass of finest Sussex this Christmas from the Wiston Estate Winery

With Christmas approaching I’m heading for the Wiston Estate Winery and Chalk Restaurant to catch up with Kirsty Goring and do a bit of shopping.

The Goring family have long sought to share their blessings with the community and have stewarded the Wiston Estate since 1743. At the heart of Richard and Kirsty Goring’s vision is their desire to create a rural community where people and nature can work in concert with each other.

Kirsty greets me in the courtyard of the re-purposed barns, which recently won a Sussex Heritage award. I remark on the beauty of the setting. The lines of vines in the vineyard accentuate the hills and folds of the Sussex Downs in a landscape which would have delighted the artist Eric Ravilious. It is the chalk which blesses the vines and gives the Chalk Restaurant its name.

As we sit down in the fabulous Chalk Restaurant Kirsty says “For Richard and I the point of Chalk was for this place to be the welcoming heart of the estate…to create a rural meeting place where people, nature and enterprise can co-exist and flourish.” She explains how people come to enjoy Chalk’s beautiful food and Wiston’s exquisite award winning wines and end up celebrating the nature and countryside around them. Kirsty continues “We know that Sussex has such delicious produce and if you taste it when it’s fresh your tasting it at it’s best. And here at Chalk some of it is produced only metres away.” She describes how their chef, Bradley, is passionate about the best local produce and that even the fish comes from the day boats at Worthing.

Kirsty Goring at the Chalk Restaurant on the Wiston Estate

Kirsty speaks passionately about the importance of relationship, she remarks “It’s about long-term stewardship. We care for this land and we care about the communities that are here.” I comment on how hope-filled it is to see the return of employment to agriculture in new and exciting ways. She replies “Not only the return of employment but the return of community, a rural community. We are often employing forty people in the original vineyards and now across the estate we have eighty-two people on the books – and lots of them are young!”

Don’t let your Christmas be dull – lay in some fine Wiston wines!

And we are so blessed to be able to be together this Christmas so treat yourselves to an outing to Chalk whether that’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. After all shared, joyful memories bind families and friends together. To find out more visit wistonestate.com/visit/christmasatwiston.

Wiston’s Sublime Bubbly and Wimbledon

Harry and Pip Goring at the Wiston vineyard on the Sussex Downs
Harry and Pip Goring at the Wiston vineyard on the Sussex Downs

Wimbledon fortnight is fast approaching as I set out for the Wiston vineyards on the slopes of the Sussex Downs. I drive up the shady, narrow lane with dappled sunlight breaking through the canopy of trees, past a farmyard and the view suddenly opens onto the beautiful vineyard bathed in brilliant sunshine.

Wiston’s English sparkling wines are my favourite and I’m excited as Harry and Pip Goring welcome me. Harry is keen to show me the vines. He says “We have three traditional champagne grapes here – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier” He acknowledges the breeze and explains how important it is to the health of the vines. I ask him how important the weather is to a successful harvest. Harry replies “Bad weather around Wimbledon can be a disaster. If the covers are on all the time at Wimbledon it’s terrible for the vines as they can’t flower and fruit.”

Harry Goring’s family have farmed the estate since 1743. He remarks “It has always been a traditional family estate until now.” He is quick to point out that the Wiston vineyard is his wife, Pip’s inspiration. Pip and Harry were married in 1972. Pip explains enthusiastically “I always wanted to plant a vineyard. I grew up in Cape Town in site of the mountains and rows of vines. I knew that we could do this here in Sussex. We planted our vines in 2006. The Wiston Estate Winery is about family, celebration, and sharing.” The Goring’s are proud of the community of talented people who have joined this generous enterprise which continues to grow and evolve.

Also at the heart of Wiston’s acclaimed and award winning English sparkling wines is Dermot Sugrue who has been described as the ‘best wine maker in England’. Dermot strives for a purity of expression throughout the wine process. Wiston has produced the first English sparkling wine to win overall in the international 2019 Decanter awards – it’s the Oscars for wine.
Wiston’s wines are exuberant, crisp on the palette with fragrant notes of orchard fruits overlaid with delicious brioche and toasted hazelnut, complimented by its persistent stream of tiny bubbles.
There is a processional quality to the unfolding of this remarkable project which is continuing under the leadership of Harry and Pip’s son Richard and his wife Kirsty.

This a blessed spot. The vineyard is at one with its landscape surrounded by traditional wheat and barley crops, the sheep grazing beneath Chanctonbury Ring. This generous family gives expression to their wish to share their blessings and the importance of long-term stewardship through their work.
I ask Pip to summarise Wiston Estate Wines and she says “It’s a celebration of everything, it sings its own song – an elixir vitae – a drink of life!”

Wiston’s sublime bubbly and Wimbledon – what could be better!

Strawberries and Wiston’s irresistibly delicious bubbly – what could be better to accompany the BBC’s exemplary coverage of Wimbledon’s finals this weekend! You can pick some up from Hennings Wine in Pulborough, Petworth and Chichester, or online at www.wistonestate.com.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.