Greater Brighton leaders have praised a family-run vineyard for leading the way in putting English sparkling wine on the global map and unbottling a multi-million pound industry.

In less than 25 years Ridgeview’s stunning vineyard at the foot of picturesque South Downs has blossomed into one of the best in the world, with the cool climate and top class specialist facilities aiding the production of sparkling wines fit for the Queen.

Global awards, international exports and an increase in production to more than a quarter of a million bottles have followed as English sparkling wine starts to replace champagne as the ‘go-to drink’ for celebrations.

Greater Brighton representatives recently had a chance to see the fruits of the firm’s labour first hand and hear how the Ditchling-based operation has been at the heart of a revolution in the UK wine industry.

The delegation heard how it has led to the development of a multi-million pound viticulture business within the City Region while supporting the ongoing growth of agriculture, hospitality and tourism.

Councillor Daniel Humphreys, Chairman of Greater Brighton, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the team at Ridgeview, a fantastic family business which has been operating in the heart of the Greater Brighton region for 25 years.

“They now not only export all over the world but have added to the diversity of our region creating a thriving wine business which contributes an enormous amount to the wider sustainability of the region.

“It’s been a real privilege hearing how the team have done a fantastic job in raising the quality of UK wine to the point where they now have the champagne region on the run. It is a brilliant story about our sub region and how we are creating a resilient and diverse economy which provides a range of skilled jobs for residents in our communities.”

Ridgeview was founded in 1995 by Mike and Chris Roberts who were keen to develop a vibrant sustainable business around their passion for wine.

Since then, the vineyard has gone from strength to strength – winning the International Winemaker of the Year award and becoming the only English wine producer to be included in the prestigious Top 50 Vineyards in the world global list.

Ridgeview wines are now proudly served at Buckingham Palace State Banquets and No. 10 Downing Street while produce is exported to nine countries, including the USA, China and Japan.

The tour also gave Greater Brighton representatives the chance to see the firm’s new £1.8 winery which aims to double production to 500,000 bottles by 2023.

Key to this investment is an underground cellar space, which will allow it to store more than a million bottles of wine and step up the production of products for national supermarkets

The growth of Ridgeview and other vineyards in the City Region has meant the UK wine industry is developing at great pace.

According to WineGB, the industry’s trade body, production of English wine trebled from 5.9 million bottles in 2017 to 15.6 million in 2018. 

This popularity is creating new opportunities in employment. Currently 2,000 people are employed within the UK wine industry, with up to 30,000 new jobs created by 2040 if investment continues.

Tamara Roberts, Ridgeview CEO, said: “We started 25 years ago when the industry didn’t exist and have been one of the pioneers alongside other producers to really put English sparkling wines on the global wine map

“We are sustainable, we invest back into local businesses and have a great relationships with local restaurants, hotels and chefs as well as a tourism aspect with tastings, tours and outlet allowing customers to buy from us direct.

“It was great to welcome the Greater Brighton delegation to our site and explain our ongoing ambition to increase the tourism side of things and exports while also opening up new markets domestically as our supply increases.”

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