About Albourne Estate
Albourne Wine Estate was established in 2010 by husband and wife team, Alison Nightingale and Nick Cooper, and has rapidly established itself as an innovative and quality-led English wine producer at the forefront of this rapidly growing industry. Following a career in marketing working overseas for large multinationals, Alison took a step back in 2004 and with two young children completed a Viticulture & Enology degree at Plumpton College, before searching for their own site to establish a vineyard in England. After a lengthy search they came across Albourne Farm, just 5 minutes from where they lived in Hurstpierpoint, with the perfect combination of location, geology and buildings.
Over the past 11 years they have established the vineyard, a winery and a stunning new Visitor Centre. From winning ‘UK Wine of the Year’ in 2015 with a Bacchus wine from the second ever harvest, the range, quality and reputation of Albourne Estate wines has grown to include traditional and charmat method sparkling wines, white and red still wines and one of the first English Vermouths. Alison continues to manage the day-to-day running of the Estate and lives on-site with Nick and her three daughters, two dogs, four pygmy goats, four sheep, six chickens and a cat!
Today, our aspirations for our vineyard and winery remain the same:
- To produce an excellent and distinctive range of English wines that capture the essence of our unique Sussex terroir and can compete on the world stage
- To do this in a sustainable, low Carbon way
- To be inclusive in our approach to talking to customers so that learning about our wines is enjoyable, informative and accessible
- To remain a truly boutique producer in style and scale, committed to working with and supporting other local businesses
We continue to strive to meet these aspirations – please try our wines or come and visit us to find out more and we would love to hear your views.
Our Vineyard & Winery
Latitude: 50° 55′ 36” N – Longitude: 0° 13′ 32” W – Altitude: 36m at highest point – Distance from the sea: 8 miles
We selected the site of the vineyard not only for its stunning views of the South Downs National Park, but for its slope, aspect, altitude and geology: tracing the beautiful south-facing slope of a low ridge created by underlying Cretaceous green sandstone.
These features provide excellent drainage, reduced frost risk and maximum sun exposure – critical factors in achieving successful vine growth and grape ripeness at this northerly latitude. The vineyard is now planted with 42,000 vines covering approximately 30 acres, which include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Bacchus, Ortega and Dornfelder. This range of varieties and their clones allows us to experiment with a diversity of wine styles and optimise our wines in any given year as vintage variations in the UK can be quite extreme.
All our wines are carefully made by us on-site in our modern winery where we sensitively mix the ‘old world’ and the ‘new’ in wine making techniques. From selective oak barrel maturations for our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir base wines to inert gas pressing of our aromatic varieties and the use of new types of yeasts for our fermentation cultures we continue to explore and push the boundaries of English wine making.
Sustainability & our Carbon Footprint
Our bottle labels feature some of the wildlife seen around the vineyard and winery and represent our sympathetic approach to our environment. We are firmly committed to ‘best practices’ in vineyard management and winery processes as we strive to reduce our CARBON FOOTPRINT. Read about our progress in our Blog
Our steps include:
- 100% green energy use in our winery, in part supplied by our own array of 159 solar panels. The size of our array means we export a signficant amount of solar energy to the grid, contributing to the overall growth in green energy use by others.
- Extensive insulation of our winery and bottle store to minimize energy consumption
- Adaptation of wine making practices to significantly reduce on-site energy use. We have halved our energy use over the last few years.
- Year-round maintenance of grass cover in alleys and headlands to reduce soil erosion and compaction.
- Use of sheep over winter in the vineyard to control ground cover and provide manure
- Under vine cultivation to reduce use of herbicides
- Mulching of all vine prunings in the vineyard alleys to add back soil nutrients and organic matter so reducing our need for additional inputs
- Application of green compost to improve soil structure and fertility. We are also now planting ‘green manures’ to further build our soils organic matter levels.
- Extensive soil nutrient mapping and band application equipment ensure we only add chemical nutrients exactly when and where required
- Minimising new building development. Our Tasting Room was constructed as a mezzanine within the exisiting framework of our Winery.
Wildlife & Art
Everyday we enjoy wonderful wildlife in and around our vineyard and this has inspired our label designs.
Our still wine range features a Buzzard, a Green Woodpecker, a Dandelion and a Common Blue Butterfly and the first of our sparkling wine bottles proudly displays a Barn Owl – all regularly sighted here and painted for us by talented local artist Louise Body.
We plan to involve other local artistic talent in the future as well as celebrating the wealth of flora and fauna that makes our local environment so uniquely vibrant.
Louise trained in Fine art-painting and graduated from Nottingham University in 1996. In 2002 as part of an exhibition about domestic environments, Louise hand printed some wallpaper which was about the British obsession with tea drinking.
Now the commonest and most widespread UK bird of prey. It is quite large with broad, rounded wings, and a short neck and tail. When gliding and soaring it will often hold its wings in a shallow ‘V’ and the tail is fanned. Their plaintive mewing call could be mistaken for a cat.
The Green Woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain. It has a heavy-looking body, short tail and a strong, long bill. It is green on its upperparts with a paler belly, bright yellow rump and red on the top of its head. The black ‘moustache’ has a red centre in males. They have an undulating flight and a loud, laughing call.
Common Blue Butterfly
Living up to its name, this butterfly is the commonest blue found in the British Isles. While the male has bright blue uppersides, the female is primarily brown, with a highly variable amount of blue. This is the most widespread Lycaenid found in the British Isles and can be found almost anywhere, including Orkney.
The barn owl has a heart-shaped face, pure white under parts and a light brown back and wingsbuff back and wings and pure white underparts, it can be a haunting sight flying at night but the the barn owl is a distinctive and much-loved countryside bird. Widely distributed across the UK, the barn own has been affected by pesticides and is in decline.
Taraxacum officinale, common Dandelions grow in all kinds of grasslands from lawns to roadside verges, pastures to traditional meadows and is beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects.
The swallows, martins, and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance.
The roe deer, also known as the roe, western roe deer or European roe, is a species of deer. The male of the species is sometimes referred to as a roebuck. The roe is a small deer, reddish and grey-brown, and well-adapted to cold environments.
The Canada goose is a large wild goose with a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. It is native to the arctic and temperate regions of North America, and its migration occasionally reaches across the Atlantic to northern Europe.