Moves by several English wine producers to establish protected name status for Sussex has drawn a rebuke from Chapel Down, a rival wine company based outside of the region.

Decanter.com this week revealed plans from Sussex producers to launch a bid for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status across the European Union – similar to that enjoyed by Champagne.

But, the idea appears to have divided opinion within the English wine sector. Kent-based Chapel Down said it didn’t agree with the idea.

‘English producers have all been working really hard to develop our sparkling wine and now this could cloud the market’, said Guy Tresnan, Chapel Down’s sales and marketing director. ‘To say something coming out of Sussex in better than Kent is nonsense,’ he said.

Chapel Down, one of England’s leading sparkling wine producers, is based in Tenterden, Kent, but also has vines in the neighbouring region of Sussex. About 60% of its wine is from contract growers in southern England.

‘I don’t understand the rationale of it. The only important thing is your brand, ultimately the consumer will decide,’ Tresnan said.

Tresnan also told Decanter.com that Chapel Down has leased a further 48.5 hectares of land between Boxley Hill and Bluebell Hill, in addition to the 73ha of ‘prime vineyard land’ it said it had leased a month ago. Tresnan, who is one of the owners of Chapel Down, said the land would be used to grow Chardonnay and Bacchus grapes. ‘Is this not what we should be doing; investing in our brand rather than wasting efforts on a PDO?’

Those in favour of the Sussex PDO plan argue that it could be used as an important marketing tool, as well as to enhance winemaking standards.

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Written by Barnaby Eales