Discover South Downs with Weyborne Estate

The South Downs region, located in Southern England, is renowned for its stunning landscapes, rolling chalk hills, vibrant biodiversity, and a rich cultural heritage, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities and nature enthusiasts. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1966 The South Downs cover over 1,600 square kilometres, stretching across the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex, and East Sussex.

The South Downs is also an emerging wine region, benefiting from a climate and soil conditions similar to those in Champagne, France. The area is known for producing high-quality sparkling wines, something Weyborne Estate know a thing or two about. Located at the highest point of the South Downs National Park and at the start of the river Wey, the estate dates to 1640 but vines were first planted here in 2007. Nick Clark, the owner of Weyborne Estate, has a business background in mining and a passion for geology. Recognising the unique terroir at the Weyborne Estate, he embarked on a quest to produce one of the finest sparkling wines in the world. Seeing the potential in the 1.2ha vineyards that were already thriving, Nick decided to plant more vines, leading to the creation of The Family Reserve 2018.

For this instalment of our Discover series, we had the pleasure of visiting Weyborne Estate and speaking with William Sharpley, Commercial Director of Weyborne Estate and also Fin Corbett who works in the vineyard and is committed to achieving the highest quality grape production. We chatted to them about the South Downs and a perfect day out in the area, as well as what’s on the horizon for Weyborne.

How do Weyborne differ to other wineries in the area/ UK?

W.S: Our vineyard sits on the highest point of the South downs, so the combination of steep slopes and high altitude here at Weyborne gives a lovely freshness to the wine and allows the grapes to retain their acidity, which is ideal for sparkling wines. This relatively high altitude also means that we rarely encounter frost here. More interesting, on the palate structure, is the diurnal variation between night and day, and the altitude gives you that variation to a greater extent, which toughens up the grape skins and give us better renders; which in turn gives the wines more complexity.

We are a single estate, all the fruits come from our 10ha of vines, we have fantastic chalky soil here which adds to a lovely minerality in our wine. Biodiversity is also a priority for us; we keep bees here, which doesn’t directly impact the vines but impacts everything around them, encouraging a healthy environment, and helping all the flowers to grow.

Can you share any upcoming projects or developments at Weyborne that you are excited about?

W.S: We're excited about where we will be in the next three to four years’ time because by then we hope to have four wines in the portfolio. We currently have The Family Reserve 2018, with 4 years of maturation and bottled in 2022 with zero dosage. The next vintage will be called something else… All to be to be revealed soon!

We are very much hoping to be able to produce a Blanc des Blancs. We are growing Pinot Précoce, which is a lovely, light version of a Pinot Noir which may contribute to making a sparkling rosé, but as you know, making wine is a patient person’s game.

Beyond Weyborne Estate what other attractions or experiences in the South Downs do you recommend for visitors?

F.C.: Most people come to the area for the incredible views. There are lots of different walks to choose from, and a popular one is The Temple of the Winds walk with the starting point just down the road from the estate, up Black Down Hill. Once you get to the top of the hill it has amazing views across the South Downs. This is also the spot where the famous Poet Lord Tennyson is said to have written many of his poems.  

For me personally, Cowdray Estate in Midhurst is amazing, it caters for almost everything! There is the Cowdray Heritage ruins, a Championship golf course, polo, clay pigeon shooting as well as a traditional farm shop... You won’t be bored!

Where are you go to spots to eat out in the area?

F.C.: There are lots of great little country pubs close by, in Haslemere, such as The Three Horseshoes and The Hollist Arms, which is great for a Sunday lunch. The Rose and Crown, in Godalming, is also a great spot. We are really spoilt for choice with pubs in the area! If you are looking for a restaurant, there’s a lovely little independent one in Haslemere, called Moma, perfect for any occasion.

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After spending four years living the outdoor dream in New Zealand and drinking great wine, Lisa returned to the UK and started her Bibendum career in Sales Operations before joining the Customer Marketing team in 2022.