Simon Woodhead, a former designer of automotive sensors at the TAG McLaren formula 1 racing team, planted Stopham Estate next to the River Arun in The South Downs National Park in 2007 after studying winemaking at Plumpton College in Sussex.
He chose this lovely spot to plant his white grape varieties having looked for a site that provided free-draining soils, and here they are sandy, which is perfect for drainage. Such soils mean that the vines can and must dig deep for water. The downside is that they need a lot of care and attention, and the addition of a good deal of local manure to the vineyard and the repairing of the damage done by rabbits who love to dig in the soft surface there.
Pinot gris, pinot blanc and bacchus are planted for still wines, dornfelder for rosé, and chardonnay, pinot noir and auxerrois for sparkling wines.
Since 2010 Tom has had the invaluable assistance of fellow Plumpton alumni Tom Bartlett who has previously worked vintages in New Zealand and California. Together they make the wine in a technologically advanced winery equipped with temperature-controlled, computer-supervised stainless-steel vats and a laboratory in which the wines can be assessed and analysed. This is a first-class operation making high-quality wines.