How to make English Sparkling Wine... with a little patience!

Ever wondered how the bubbles get into the bottle? Here is the story of our English sparkling wine – the Wiston version!

Step 1 & 2

Step 1 – Plant a Vineyard! The first test of patience. After 34 years of marriage – Pip Goring finally got her wish and vines were planted in 2006 at our Findon Park Vineyard site – a stunning secluded spot in the South Downs with chalky sub-soils – on the same strata of earth as Champagne, and with the same grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Step 2 – After two years of caring for the vineyard (skipping over a lot of work here!), hand harvest the grapes – you can see the patience theme kicking in. A new vineyard can be first harvested a minimum of two years after planting. We picked a small amount of fruit from our Findon Vineyard in 2008 – but it did not start fully producing a significant amount of grapes for several years.

Step 3 & 4

Step 3 – Press the grapes and allow the juice to ferment to make a still wine. We press all of our grapes at our winery here in West Sussex, and the best grapes are pressed in our beautiful Coquard press from Champagne. Once the still wine is made we allow it to sit and rest – either in stainless steel tanks or old oak barrels until the summer after the harvest – another 8-9 months…

Step 4 – Blend your still wines to the style you want – our Brut NV is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Once blended you can bottle it – with a new addition of yeast and sugar – and seal the bottle tightly.

step 5 & 6

Step 5 – Second fermentation! This is where it gets fun. When you bottle the still wine with the new yeast and sugar fermentation kicks off again – and the resulting C02 which is a natural bi-product of the process is trapped in the bottle. With nowhere to go it dissolves into the wine – biding its time..!

Step 6 – Allow your bottles to age… (more of that patience required again). After the second fermentation we allow our bottles to sit quietly in our cellars for a number of years – anything from three as a minimum – sometimes even up to 10. (You begin to see why this game involves a lot of patience!) Allowing the wines to rest gives the dead yeast cells a chance to break down. Without getting too techy – this is the process which gives sparkling wines their wonderful biscuity, toasty, pastry aromas.

step 7 & 8

Step 7 – That dead yeast we talk about… so now we need to remove it from the bottle so the wine is lovely and clear and bright. To do this we ‘riddle’ the bottles – gently turn from horizontal to ‘upside-down’ so the yeast is collected into the bottle neck. This little part of the bottle neck is frozen, the ice/yeast plug is removed, the bottle topped up and the cork popped in – and secured in place with the wire hood. This process is called ‘disgorgement’.

Step 8 – You’ve guessed it – a little more waiting! After disgorgement we like to leave our wines at least three months before they leave the winery. This allows the wine to settle back down, and the cork to settle as well.

see FOR yourselves…

The good news is… well-made traditional method sparkling wines age beautifully, rewarding all that patience. We are currently selling our 2010 Blanc de Blancs – and it still tastes simply sublime.

If you want to see this wonderful process for yourselves – come and join us on one of our tours.


discover english sparkling wines