Wines grown and made in Sussex have been awarded a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.

The approval was announced today by Victoria Prentis, minister for farming, fisheries and food. 

WineGB CEO Simon Thorpe said the approval comes at an important time for English and Welsh wines.

“There has never been more interest in and demand for our wines and the reputation they have gained in both domestic and international markets is based on high quality viticulture and winemaking excellence.

“WineGB, as a trade body, represents the interests of vineyards and winemakers across the whole country, and is committed to ensuring there is an appropriate GI structure for all. As such it has recently completed a review of the existing PDO and PGI regulations for English and Welsh wines. A consultation document, which is the result of this review, will be released to the industry in the coming weeks and will allow all producers to have their say in the shaping of the regulations which will then be proposed to DEFRA.”

Sussex-based Rathfinny celebrated the news, and the winery’s co-founder Mark Driver was the spokesperson listed on the PDO application. 

“Wines labelled as ‘Sussex’ must pass a stringent analytical test and qualitative analysis by an independent tasting panel,” Rathfinny Estate said in a statement. “In the case of Sussex Sparkling wines, this means that the wine must have been aged in the bottle for a minimum of 15 months, before release, and the wines are assessed for their clarity, aroma, taste and the characteristics of their bubbles.” 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sussex-based Bolney applauded the move. 

“We welcome the decision to give Sussex official PDO status. In no way do we want to confuse our customers but at the same time we feel it is right to separate winemaking techniques and vineyard geographies. We are sure that in time there will be more PDO statuses awarded and that our customers will benefit from knowing the geographical origin of the grapes and the way that a wine has been made. 

“English wines, at all levels, have a huge future and this is the first in many steps that will benefit everyone involved in our industry.”