On Wednesday afternoon there was a debate about Wine Week that took place at the end of the day, organised by Andrew Griffith who is the MP for Arundel and South Downs. His comments were focused on this subject as were a wide range of MPs including two others from Sussex. They were Tim Loughton and Peter Bottomley who are the two MPs for Worthing. Sadly there were no MPs from East Sussex in the debate. The opening comment from Andrew sadly did not refer to other wine sources in Sussex which was very sad. He started the session by stating
It is a great pleasure to talk about the success story that is English wine in English Wine Week, but I am happy to expand the designation to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. My constituency, Arundel and South Downs, has one of the largest collections of vineyards in the United Kingdom, with a combined 309 hectares. Vineyards making up that hectarage are among some of the best in the country, including Nutbourne, Redfold Vineyards, Coldharbour, Tullens, Stopham, the Wiston Estate and Woodmancote vineyard. In that respect, I draw the House’s attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests or, more accurately, the lack of any entry. With the summer months now upon us, I am always happy to volunteer myself as a professional consumer of their products.
After a few more words from Andrew and a response from Peter Bottomley he then stated
Wine, as we know, has a long history on this island, having been introduced by the Romans. By the time of the Normans, who indeed chose Sussex to land, more than 40 vineyards were listed in the Domesday Book—one of the earliest censuses on record—proving that their produce has always attracted the attention of the taxman. There was healthy growth in the wine industry in the late medieval and early-modern period, with 139 vineyards recorded at the time of Henry VIII’s coronation.
A few minutes later he referred to
I was talking about awards and the quality of our English products. In recent months, Nyetimber—another vineyard in my constituency—won four awards at the 2020 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships
The other comments relating to Sussex included these following pieces
I see on the Front Bench the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend Mims Davies, who plays host to Bolney, and Kingscote in East Grinstead.
There is currently only one UK college I am aware of that promotes the very highest level of viticulture course, and that is in the constituency of my hon. Friend Maria Caulfield, which is Plumpton College. Its principal, Jeremy Kerswell, is very engaged in expanding this space and stepping into that opportunity. I believe that, together, we can find a happy balance between gaining seasonal workers, but also encouraging more British people to take up the wonderful career opportunities offered in viticulture.
Today we drink far more Australian wine than the Australians drink English wine, so there is an opportunity to redress that imbalance thanks to the new outline trade deal agreed by the International Trade Secretary. Such opportunities will be firmly on the agenda, or the menu, at the SussExport event to be hosted by Wilton Park this July for all export businesses in Sussex.
Then Tim Loughton said a few things including these
We need to celebrate the industry, and the Government need to get behind the industry a little more. We are now producing 7.1 million bottles on 10,000 acres across the country, mostly in England but some in Wales and apparently on a vineyard in Scotland—with a certain whisky tinge about it, I should think. We have 800 vineyards —and growing—employing many thousands of people and, really importantly, encouraging wine tourism as well. In Sussex, we have something called Sussex Modern, which was invented by the proprietor of Rathfinny, which is probably going to become the largest English vineyard and is a great success story. Sussex Modern combines vineyards with cultural and artistic sites for people coming to have a holiday in Sussex, just as they might go down to the south of France, to Bordeaux or wherever. They can take in some vineyards and some culture, history and heritage as well, and they can do it all in the United Kingdom, regardless of pandemics and everything else.