Members of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens near Horsham in West Sussex celebrated the first harvest of the vineyard earlier this month, planted on the Grade I Listed gardens’ estate.

The 15 hectares of vineyards at Leonardslee, and sister property Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate, three miles away, have produced an estimated 5,000 litres of grape juice this season, for 6,500 bottles of wine.

Total production of the sparkling varietals is 65 per cent Chardonnay, 30 per cent Pinot Noir and 5 per cent Pinot Meunier, with the first release of wine from 2023. At Leonardslee, guests picked from the experimental 0.5-hectare planting for non-sparkling Pinotage, which the estate is using to evaluate the suitability of the growing conditions in Sussex.

Penny Streeter says: “Our wine estate managing director Barry Anderson and his team of pickers at Mannings Heath managed to avoid the heavy downpours of rain, to bring in a good first harvest. To celebrate the occasion, we invited members of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens to join in, as well as those of the Benguela Cove wine club – which brings wines from our vineyard in South Africa to the UK and is the inspiration for creating the vineyard and wine tourism experience in Sussex.”

Visitors in the UK can enjoy wine tastings and pairings with chocolate and artisan cheeses, and golf buggy tours of the Mannings Heath vineyard. At Leonardslee, in addition to the attraction of the Grade I LIsted gardens, Restaurant Interlude under South African chef Jean Delport has won its first Michelin star after less than one year of opening.

Wine production in the UK and South Africa is overseen by cellar master Johann Fourie. He recently won a series of awards for Benguela Cove Lagoon wine estate, which he is hoping to follow up with similar accolades in the UK, says Penny Streeter. For more information see www.benguelacollection.com