Ordinary cycling events have feed stops. Not Eroica Britannia. Every stop on the Classic Rides is an experience in its own right. You’ll be in no rush to get back on your bike when you visit Ashling Park.
With just a few miles to go before the finish, the Ashling Park Estate is an award-winning vineyard, restaurant, gin-making school, and much more.
“The minute you come through the gates you could be in South Africa or a vineyard in the Napa Valley,” says Ashling Park’s owner, Gail Gardner. “You’ll feel like you’re on holiday. There’s a real wow-factor!”
Ashling Park produces exceptional wines from grapes grown in its two vineyards. “One of them was planted in 2005, and our home estate vineyard was planted in 2017. The estate is 50 acres, and 10 of those acres are under vine,” says Gail.
What is it that makes this corner of Sussex so well suited to winemaking?
“Vines don’t like having soggy feet! Because we have chalk and flint soil, water can drain away but the vines can wiggle their way down and find water if they need to,” Gail explains. “We’ve got Kingley Vale to the north, and the Isle of Wight off the coast, both of which help keep bad weather away from us. We’re only a mile from the sea, which keeps frosts at bay.”
It also helps that Sussex is the sunniest county in the United Kingdom, averaging 1902 hours of sunshine each year, according to Met Office records. The climate is the envy of winemakers in other areas of Britain, and combines with the soil and no little winemaking skill to make exceptional wines.
“The chalk of the South Downs passes under the Channel and pops up again in Champagne, so the ground is the same consistency as in the Champagne region,” says Gail.
Do the best English sparkling wines hold their own with anything produced in France? “Oh, definitely!” enthuses Gail. “In fact, it’s becoming a bit too warm in the Champagne region to keep that acidic taste that you’re looking for in a sparkling wine.”
The best Sussex wines have now become so sought after by wine buffs that Sussex has become a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Among these increasingly well-regarded wines, Ashling Park sits at the pinnacle.
“For the past two years running, we’ve won ‘Best Classic Cuvée NV’ in the WineGB awards, as voted for by Oz Clarke and other expert judges. You can’t get better than that!” says Gail. Ashling Park has also won a Gold award from Decanter magazine, one of just four Gold awards for UK sparkling wine and only 21 worldwide.
It’s not just the quality of the wine and natural beauty of the location that makes Ashling Park so special. Anyone with an eye for architecture will appreciate the design of the tasting rooms and luxury lodges.
“They were designed by Will Hardie of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces, and opened in May last year,” says Gail. “They really are amazing!”
Pay a visit to Ashling Park’s restaurant, and you’ll find it’s not just the wine that’s produced on the doorstep. The whole menu is a celebration of Sussex. “We keep everything local,” says Gail. “Of course, the wine comes from our vineyard, but we also have our own kitchen garden for herbs and use local produce.”
If your mouth is watering now, imagine how you’ll feel in August. As a thirsty and hungry Eroica Britannia rider, you can expect delicious local food in glorious surroundings when you arrive at Ashling Park. A glass of award-winning wine will lift the spirits for the final push to the finish at Goodwood.
To find out more about Eroica Britannia, visit Goodwood.com