Introducing The Secret Vineyard
The Secret Vineyard is one of Sussex’s newest vineyards, founded by sisters Helen and Vicky Tate. Set in the village of Herstmonceux on ancient woodland and Lime Cross Nursery – which is renowned for its rich history in conifers. With Helen’s wine background, having studied at Plumpton College, and Vicky’s horticulture knowledge and experience, together they were able to begin The Secret Vineyard.
It was a dream of Helen and Vicky’s to one day start a vineyard, and during the pandemic decided to change the direction of their business at the time closing the nursery and cafe. The terroir boasts the perfect conditions for viticulture and they saw an opportunity to start planting their dream vineyard.
The name, The Secret Vineyard, started because they were keeping it secret from the local community as there was much speculation and anticipation after the closure of the cafe and nursery, eventually, word got out and the name stuck!
It is an exciting time for English wine-making, especially in the South East with numerous vineyards popping up. The potential for still wines is phenomenal with new innovations being used by people and there’s more wine-making experience than ever in the UK.
The Secret Vineyard topography is made of clay and sandstone, it’s really well drained, has good protection from frost and wind with a sunny elevation – all important factors for the process of creating delicious wine. They’re looking to use regenerative viticulture techniques to create the most healthy soil using less chemicals to create disease-resistant vines and better-quality fruits. Working with some of the best winemakers in the UK, The Secret Vineyard are onto a tremendous start on their vineyard journey.
Currently, The Secret Vineyard offers two wines from their 2022 harvest. Their Chardonnay which is a blend of 97% Chardonnay, 2% Reichensteiner and up to 1% Pinot Noir. It’s a fresh, fruity and balanced wine which is made and blended in 100% stainless steel tanks. This Chardonnay has turned a fair few non-Chardonnay drinkers into lovers of the blend. It’s a lovely aperitif and works deliciously with soft cheeses, white meats and fish dishes.
Their second wine is a Rosé which is a blend of 51% Pinot Noir Precoce, 30% Pinot Noir, 14% Pinot Meunier, and 5% Chardonnay. Wine experts have commented on how much they love this blend, and the early ripening Pinot Noir gives it extra ripeness to the flavour. This wine is full of fruit and you’ll pick up wild strawberry aromas, so a lovely wine to serve alongside strawberry desserts or a fresh watermelon salad.
The retreat days at The Secret Vineyard are wonderful and a real treat! They combine their wellness days with a tour around the vineyard and a sensory wine experience. Pilates or yoga is followed by a dip in the lake and a warm up in the hot tub, a two course homemade lunch accompanied by The Secret Vineyard wine followed by a tour of the vineyard. We love the sound of this and can’t wait to book ourselves onto one.
Food Pop Ups
From pizza to tacos, during the summer months of the year, The Secret Vineyard hosts street food pop-ups where visitors can enjoy an evening of delicious food and sample the wine grown onsite. Sit by the lake with a glass of wine, a slice of freshly made pizza and watch the sunset, or take a stroll through the vines during the golden hour of a summer’s evening – count us in!
Stay at The Secret Vineyard
There are multiple accommodations at The Secret Vineyard for you to stay in. The perfect opportunity to unwind and reconnect with nature amongst the beautiful ancient woodland and picturesque town nearby. During your stay you can explore The Secret Vineyard wines with a tour and tasting, swim in the crystal clear lake or visit the nearby restaurants, cafes and historical sites. Other vineyards are close if you want to plan a vineyard tour.
Award Winning ÖÖD House
The award winning ÖÖD House won the Airbnb Host Award 2022 for the Most Unique Stay. It’s a stylish mirrored glass house situated right next to the lake so it really feels like you’re on the water. Recharge your batteries, watch the wildlife or visit Herstmonceux Castle. The ÖÖD House is a bit of luxury in nature, and the hot tub is the ideal way to finish your day and enjoy a glass of The Secret Vineyard wine!
Cosy Shepherd’s Hut
There’s also the cosy eco Shepherd’s Hut, new to summer 2023, and made from vintage up-cycled materials from Helen and Vicky’s grandfather’s 1940s workshop. The hut overlooks the woodland with footpaths which has a magical bluebell wood to explore in the spring. Cosy up with the log burner in the colder months after a tour around the vineyard and enjoy the delicious wine.
If there’s a group of you looking to get away, their cottage would be the ideal place to visit, whether you’re looking for a family trip or a few days away with some friends to sample the local wines. The country cottage is vibrantly decorated and directly onsite to the vineyard and easy to get to the local sites.
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