April Blog on Sussex Life…

April is a month of avidly watching the weather forecasts and sleepless nights for award-winning wine producer Alison Nightingale, as the first buds start appearing on the vines at her vineyard, Albourne Estate, near Hurstpierpoint.

The beautiful warm sunny April days have been a mixed blessing for us.

On the one hand, it is bringing on bud burst in the vines – the first stage in their annual growth cycle. The dormant winter buds first swell, then a fluffy brown covering appears and then finally the buds burst with the first leaf tips appearing.

On the other hand, bud burst heralds a month of anxious weather forecast watching and sleepless nights as a frost now can be hugely damaging to the young buds as they emerge. The worse case scenario is that the frost completely kills them. The vine will usually then go onto produce a secondary bud and shoot – but these rarely have much fruit on them. So a whole year’s crop could be lost in one bad frosty night!

The main defence we have is site selection. That means choosing a vineyard site on a slope, at low altitude and near the south coast. Frosts are very rare near to the sea and cold air that can cause frosts tends to drain down slopes so leaving the vines on the slope unharmed. However, no site is completely immune. And there are many different options out there ranging from the very basic to the hugely expensive to help prevent frost. At the high end, as practised in parts of New Zealand, you can fly helicopters over the vineyard to disturb the air and prevent frost settling – a bit out of our budget range. We operate at the lower end by buying frost ‘bougies’ (candles) from Champagne in France. These are large white metal cans full of wax that can burn for up to 10 hours. These are put out amongst the vines – main photo shows my children helping to do this (somewhat reluctantly) during the Easter holidays.

Now I have to watch the forecast every night and get up during the night to check the temperature on my weather station… if I think a frost is coming then I’ll be out in the vineyard at about 3am lighting over 750 ‘bougies’! Can’t wait… at least I’ll be up in plenty of time for the school run!

    • There will be a limited number of camping/campervan pitches available on-site at £10 per pitch
    • This is not a regular camping site so facilities will be limited. There will be toilets and drinking water available but no showers or electric hook ups. Washing facilities will be limited.
    • For safety, no cars will be allowed in the camping area.
    • Albourne Estate and the organizers accept no responsibility for your camping equipment or personal property whilst on-site during the event. Please ensure all valuables are suitably locked away.


    • Gates will open from 12.00, first band on stage 2pm
    • Entertainment will end 12.30am. In order to respect our neighbours, please depart quietly and promptly.
    • Wine, beer and other drinks will be available for sale. Please do not bring your own alcoholic drinks on site. In accordance with Challenge 25 policy, anyone looking 25 years or younger will be required to show ID before buying drinks.
    • Please DO bring a folding/camping chair and suitable footwear for a farm.
    • Please DO NOT bring dogs
    • This is a farm, with lakes and a pond and the associated dangers and whilst we will take every effort to mitigate these, PARENTS must be responsible for their children at ALL TIMES.
    • Please dispose of all litter carefully in the bins provided

    COVID Policy –this will be updated closer to the time according to the latest government guidelines and policy.