As our planet warms, some of the most interesting sparkling wines these days come from England, where the vines grow in even cooler conditions than in Champagne. The British knowledge of wine is not a surprise in itself: the British drink the lion's share of the champagne produced by the French, the island has more Masters of Wine than anywhere else, and they have had a hand in creating the success of other wine regions as well, for example Bordeaux and Douro Valley port wines.
As for bubbly, Christopher Merret developed the method of producing sparkling wine in 1662 – some 30 years before Dom Perignon, although the invention is often credited to the French monk. Now English wineries are being established at an accelerating pace, and the French have also taken over vineyards in the island nation.
Ridgeview is one of England's highest quality sparkling wine producers. The farm's first vineyards were already planted in 1995, when many thought English wine was just a joke. However, Ridgeview's wines have been everything else since the beginning! They repeatedly beat their cousins from Champagne in blind tastings, even when the tasters are French themselves. While many other English wineries are financed by external operators, Ridgeview is family-owned. Tamara Roberts, the daughter of the founding couple, is currently in charge of running the farm, and Simon Roberts is the main winemaker. In practice, the whole family with their spouses and a few dedicated employees are involved in the operation of the farm.
The estate has received significant accolades from, among others, the following events: Decanter World Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge, International Wine & Spirits competition, United Kingdom Vineyard Association Wine of the Year and Grand Prix in Gastronomy – Egon Ronay British Academy of Gastronomers, Effervescents du Mond. On top of it all, Ridgeview's Merret Bloomsbury won the "Best Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine in the World" title at the International Wine and Spirits competition in 2005. Not bad at all from a winery that released its first wines in 2000!
Ridgeview's wine producing area is located in Sussex, 140 kilometers north of Champagne. The soil is calcareous, which is a vital condition for the production of quality sparkling wines. The vineyards are located on south-facing slopes and are mainly sheltered from the wind. Although the sun shines during the day and the temperatures can be favourable, the nights are generally cool and in the spring fires are used to prevent frost, which warm the air around the vines. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier are grown in the vineyards. In addition, other vegetation is also grown and at times plowed into the soil to increase its biodiversity. Due to the strong demand, the estate recently invested in new winemaking facilities and planted new vineyards, which has enabled doubling of production volumes by 2023. Ridgeview also has an underground cellar, which allows the wines to undergo a second fermentation in as cool as possible without a cooling system that burdens the environment.
In autumn 2022, Ridgeview achieved the B Corp -certificate, which emphasizes social and environmental responsibility, with high scores.
The estate's annual production is around 250,000 bottles.