While Art Tukker was born and raised in West Sussex, influences from around the world have helped shape the story of his family farm, Tinwood Estate, in the hamlet of Halnacker, near Chichester.

In the 1980s Art’s father, Aad, was travelling the world through his job teaching farmers to grow beans in Kenya, tomatoes in Germany and salads in California. It was there that he stumbled upon a new salad crop, Iceberg lettuce, brought it back to the UK and started growing it on what was a former dairy farm on Tinwood Lane.

When it was Art’s turn to take over the farm in 2006, he decided it was time for a change.

While studying agriculture and farming at university, it dawned on him that growing vines could be his family’s future and, after spending time working at vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand, he returned to Sussex to convert his family’s salad farm into a vineyard.

‘Mass production farming and supermarkets were taking prevalence and there was doubt hanging over the future of the farm growing lettuce,’ explains Art. ‘In Marlborough, I worked closely with Mike and Claire Allen, who own Huia Vineyards, and opened my eyes to the world of growing vines and producing wine.’

Fast forward 18 years and the initial 48,000 of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines planted in 2007 have quadrupled in size and the estate harvests between 300 and 400 tonnes of grapes each year. They work in collaboration with Ridgeview, near Ditchling in East Sussex, to make their sparkling wines including a Brut (£33), Blanc de Blancs (£33), Rose (£35) and limited-edition Blanc de Noirs (£45).

‘Farming for us isn’t just a job,’ says Art who lives on the 275-acre estate with his wife, Jody, and their young son, Jake. ‘Living here and looking after the land is a way of life, passed on from generation to generation. You could say growing runs through our veins.’

3 Sussex Chardonnays

Raise a glass to World Chardonnay Day on May 23

Bolney Wine Estate Chardonnay 2021, £30

Floral and fruity, this classic style Chardonnay from Bolney near Haywards Heath, has citrus and orange blossom on the nose with hints of vanilla, thanks to maturation in French oak. The palate is alive with caramelised apple and pineapple with a zesty finish. Pairs well with chicken, and roast pork with apple sauce.

Oastbrook Chardonnay 2022, £27.50

From the warm 2022 summer this Chardonnay, by Nick and America Brewer at Oastbrook Vineyard in Robertsbridge, feels like a luxurious treat. The taste is soft and creamy and everything a cold climate chardonnay should be.

Stopham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2022, £19.95

This Chardonnay from Stopham Vineyard, near Pulborough, has aromas of baked apple and lemon with crisp red apple and stone fruit on the palate. Nine months spent in barrel add to the rich texture of this wine, which is perfectly balanced by a juicy acidity. Pairs wonderfully with creamy pasta.


Drink wine, save starlings

If you visit Brighton’s derelict West Pier at dusk between early autumn and early spring, you’ll likely see the spectacular starling murmuration in the sky. The typical scene is depicted on the bottle label of Albourne Estate’s Bacchus Frizzante and the Hassocks-based vineyard has recently partnered with the RSPB to donate 20p from every bottle sold to help protect and preserve this threatened bird species for the future.


Have a sniff

If you’re struggling to smell a wine, sniff the back of your hand first before sticking your nose in the glass – it will reset your olfactory system and enable you to detect more of the aromas.

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