It will become the UK’s first golf and wine estate and the pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier grapes will be ready to make sparkling wine in 2020, with the first bottles available in 2023.
Penny Streeter (pictured centre), who bought the Mannings Heath site in 2016, said: “We are recreating a South African-style wine tourism experience, where people can enjoy a day out in a beautiful parkland estate, with fine wines, good food and an entertaining events programme.”
One of the club’s two 18-hole courses was converted to nine holes last year to make space for the new vineyard, and there are plans to build a winery next to the green keeper sheds.
The estate showcases Streeter’s wines from Benguela Cove Wine Estate in South Africa, a producer at the start of the Hermanus Wine Route in the Walker Bay region.
Streeter added: “English wine continues to build a reputation for excellence; this is the perfect time to be investing in a new Sussex vineyard.”
Johann Fourie (pictured left) was appointed cellar master in 2016 for Benguela Cove and Mannings Heath to oversee the winemaking, and viticulturist Duncan McNeil (pictured right) is managing the planting of the vines over the 20-acre plot.
There are 19,000 pinot noir, 13,000 chardonnay, 6,000 pinot meunier grape vine varieties being planted.
Duncan McNeill said: “The limiting factor in UK viticulture is lack of heat: the location was selected for its steep slope, sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds, to maximise the intensity of the sun's rays.
“The soil is a deep silty, sandy loam over a sandstone subsoil, which will encourage a full expression of fruit flavours as the grapes develop.”
The estate plans to plant a further 16,000 vines over 15 acres in 2018 to produce chardonnay grapes, for a total planned production of 150 tonnes in 2020.