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| 23 August, 2022
Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Wine and Spirits, recently visited Rathfinny Wine Estate to celebrate the designation of Sussex Wine as a UK Geographical Indication (GI).
Following its departure from the EU, the UK introduced new GI schemes for agri-food products, spirit drinks, and aromatised wines. The recognition means Sussex wine will join the family of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) registered products from across the UK.
Rathfinny Wine Estate is a family-run business established in 2010 by husband and wife, Mark and Sarah Driver. The South-facing slope in the South Downs of Sussex is one of England’s exceptional natural landscapes. The climate, chalk soil and aspect make it a great site for producing world-class sparkling wine. They’ve planted three principal grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier as well as a small amount of Pinot Gris.
Employing just 1.5 people when run as an arable farm, Rathfinny now provides 95 full time jobs and is committed to developing a local skilled workforce. As a large local employer, it has massively boosted the rural economy attracted over 60,000 visitors in the last year.
With over 800 vineyards across the country, there are plenty of places to explore. UK winemakers now boast a trophy cabinet full of awards and are globally renowned for the quality of their products.
Cellar door excise duty relief or allowing English vineyards to claim Small Producer Excise Duty Relief would go a long way to support these burgeoning businesses and further encouraging tourists and boosting rural communities.
Nusrat Ghani MP, APPG Chair, said:
“It’s been great to celebrate the very best of Sussex wine today and I will continue to champion our local winemakers, who work incredibly hard all year round to produce world class award-winning wines. It’s a crucial time for the wine and spirit industry and I am keen to see Government offer these fantastic British businesses more support. Extending the small producers relief to vineyards as part of the alcohol duty review would allow the industry to invest, innovate and grow as would simplifying the proposed system for taxing wine and sparkling wine. Viticulture is the new form of farming in East Sussex and the sector supports thousands of jobs in Wealden and across the country. It is critical that we help it thrive.”
As co-chair of the APPG for Wine and Spirits, Nusrat has 14 vineyards in her constituency of Wealden and has long been an avid champion of the English wine sector which has seen a 70% increase in land planted with vines in the last 5 years.
Her passion for supporting the vineyards in Wealden, championing local winemakers can be exhibited as she has been urging the Treasury to reconsider plans on how to implement the proposed changes to the Alcohol Duty Review, which would currently result in tax hike on wine and hit small producers particularly hard.
Mark Driver, co-owner of Rathfinny Wine Estate said:
“It was great to have Nus visit Rathfinny, to be able to show her the job opportunities created in our rural Sussex community, the growth potential in wine tourism, and to discuss some of the issues facing the wine industry and the measures we are implementing to be more sustainable. I am confident that Nus will take these issues forward through the wine & spirit APPG.”
“As we look towards to this year’s harvest, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate not only the emerging English wine industry, but also to celebrate the recently approved PDO for Sussex wine.”