Driving up to Tinwood Estate, just north of Chichester in the hamlet of Halnaker, it is hard to imagine that it first began its life as an iceberg lettuce farm. Art Tukker inherited it in 2007 and throughly researched the viability of transforming it into a vineyard, an idea which was sparked whilst doing his final year dissertation at university.
Today Tinwood Estate is an absolutely gorgeous vineyard with 65 acres worth of vines, producing some truly incredible wine! The three classic varieties for sparkling wine are produced here; Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier. The grapes are taken to nearby award-winning Ridgeview Wine Estate for the wine production and return to Tinwood for the ageing process.
Sparkling is produced here primarily because the weather (i.e. lots of rain) dictates what style wine can be produced. Sussex white wines have also particularly been successful due to the well-draining chalky soil found along and around the South Downs as well as the abundant flint that also traps the heat of the sun and warms the soil.
I love that sustainability is also important to owners Art and Jody Tukker, who entered the Entry Level Stewardship scheme in 2010, a government grant initiative aimed at protecting the environment, character and history of the landscape. At Tinwood Estate absolutely no insecticides are used in the vineyard. Instead wildflower meadows and hedgerows have been introduced to help promote biodiversity on the farm. It’s also home to several beehives that have been producing two distinct types of honey.
UK Wine really has come a long way and according to the UK Vineyard Association, there are over 700 individual vineyards in the British Isles ranging from extremely small ones (the smallest only has six vines) to ones of almost 90-ha (222-acres).
The Tours and Tasting
The Tour & Tasting at Tinwood Estate cost £18 per person and for additional £14 you can also indulge in their incredible cheese platter, perfect for sharing between two. You get to try three different wines and we absolutely loved it! So much so that we even bought a voucher for friends as a Wedding present as it is the perfect experience to do together. It was so relaxed, fun and informative.
Our Tour & Tasting was led by Jody and she was so knowledgable and engaging to listen to. Best of all we got to meet their three resident dogs Pinot Noir, Bubbles and Pinot Meunier.
The estate is dog friendly so feel free to bring your furry pals! There is lots of lovely space for them.
I learned so much despite having been to so many Vineyard tours and tastings. For instance, noticing the little details such as the colour of the posts denoting which grapes were being produced amongst those rows of wine.
As it was harvest season, there was a lot of activity on and I really enjoyed seeing the buzz of the Vineyard at its prime!
The tasting itself was held on their outdoor terrace, which was absolutely stunning and really well spaced out, adhering really well to Covid 19 safety measures without taking away from the experience. We really lucked out on the weather during our visit but if it is a drizzly day when you happen to visit they do have a fabulous indoor space, that also looks out to the Vineyard.
My favourite from the wines we tried was the Blanc de Blancs, which is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. It was such a refreshing crisp wine, perfect for a summer’s day, especially when chilled. Very, very easy to drink!
I also really enjoyed the Brut Rosé, a delicate salmon coloured wine with tasting notes of fresh berries. The perfect blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay.
If you just want to pop in to enjoy a bottle of wine on the grounds you can do that too! It has the perfect ambience and is just such a stunning place.
Tinwood Estate Lodges
If you are looking for a unique stay and want to have a vineyard break, there are three three luxury wooden lodges looking out to the vineyards, each with a lovely private decking area, over-sized king bed, two-person jacuzzi and a shared wine barrel shaped sauna that you can book! They start from £195 a night.
I really loved my day out at Tinwood Estate and so much so that we are booked to go back for another tour, tasting and of course to indulge in that cheese platter again!