Meet Helen Soudain from The Secret Vineyard

Meet Helen

In our interview with Helen Soudain from The Secret Vineyard, we delve into her background in the wine industry and uncover the serene presence of her sister Vicky. Together, they bring a unique and sustainable approach to winemaking in Sussex.

Discover the secrets behind the vineyard’s offerings and the passion driving their commitment to sustainability and quality.

Share a whistle-stop tour of your career?

I did my first degree in photojournalism and briefly worked on a picture desk but decided to study wine making. My initial plan was to combine photojournalism and wine. After completing my BSc Viticulture & Oenology at Plumpton College, I then went on the work in wine making and wine marketing. In 2014 I started running my family’s business, Lime Cross Nursery, with my sister Vicky.

We ran the nursery as a garden centre, café, plant nursery and wellbeing centre.

In 2022 we planted The Secret Vineyard and today we still run the plant nursery, vineyard, and well-being in the wild.

How did the idea for The Secret Vineyard come about?

I have been dreaming of planting a vineyard since around 2012, I wanted to get as much experience as possible, before embarking on this venture.
We realised we could use a field that had been previously used for the nursery, the idea came about during lockdown!

When nothing seemed too crazy, because the world had gone crazy.

What makes The Secret Vineyard special?

It’s a special piece of land to us, our Dad sadly died of cancer in 2014, so everything about the nursery (which he took over from his parents in the 1970s), reminds us of him. He would have loved the vineyard.

We want to make the soil as healthy as possible and operate as sustainably as possible.

Who inspires you?

Firstly my husband Zac, he’s a true entrepreneur and works harder than anyone I know. He’s always encouraged my ideas and has so many great ideas too!

Secondly, my sister Vicky, she always turns a negative into a positive at work, once I spilt a big jug of milk in the fridge of our Airbnb cabin, just seconds before our first ever guests arrived! The milk went everywhere, I was freaking out! But Vicky stayed calm and said, ‘its actually a good thing this has happened, it highlights that we’ve put the jug in a bad place, the guests might have knocked it over’.

That sums her up! The truth is I’m just really clumsy!

You host wine and wellness retreats at the vineyard. Tell us more.

We’ve been running wellness retreats for around ten years, during these days, guests take part in yoga, Pilates, wild swimming, woodland walking and eat delicious food.

So when our first vintage of wine arrived, we decided to add in ‘wine tasting’ and ‘wine education’ to the day.

It’s a chance to relax in nature and take part in some relaxed but invigorating activities, followed by delicious food and wine.

It’s the perfect day right?!

What sort of food do The Secret Vineyard wines pair well with?

The rosé goes so well with smoked salmon, we love salmon by The Phised Fish, a local company who cure salmon with gin etc, it’s so good! The white is great on its own ! With Perello olives and Manchego cheese.

Your wine is available to buy through your website. Where else can people find your wine?

We sell the wine at Burford Garden Company, Platform 9 in Hove, Juiced an online supplier of natural wines, The Levels in Eastbourne, a bar in Covent Garden called Plume.

At our pop up dining events in the summer and on our website.

How do you relax when you’re away from the vineyard?

I love Pevensey Beach, the Downs and Pett Level beach.

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