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London’s first urban winery buys 12ha vineyard in West Sussex

London’s first urban winery has guaranteed its future supply of grapes by acquiring Foxhole Vineyard in West Sussex for an undisclosed sum.

Wine trade veteran Cliff Roberson opened London Cru in 2013, offering visitors the chance to see the winemaking process in action.

The urban winery – which is sandwiched between Earl’s Court and Stamford Bridge stadium in London’s Zone 1 – has previously bought all of its grapes from various growers.

That is generally the case for urban wineries, which source grapes from across the country or around the world and produce wines on-site.

However, London Cru will now be able to control the quality of its fruit after purchasing Foxhole Vineyard, which is located less than 50 miles south of the winery.

The 12ha Foxhole Vineyard borders the renowned Bolney Estate in West Sussex, offering fine views of the South Downs.

It features 20,00 vines, primarily made up of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but with a small pocket of Bacchus, on a south-facing hillside. The vines were planted in 2008/09, and they are now fully established.

Bolney Estate has previously purchased the grapes, and it has released a Foxhole Vineyard Brut Reserve in the past.

London Cru did not disclose the purchase price for the vineyard, but estate agent Savills listed the property with a guide price of £690,000.

Alex Hurley, the winemaker at London Cru, said: ‘Differing from most of the producers in the UK, London Cru has a focus on crafting top quality still wines.

‘Whilst many vineyards are being planted around the UK, few growers truly have this still wine focus. Foxhole Vineyard marks London Cru’s ambitious project to increase the quality and styles of still wines being made in the UK by taking advantage of controlling every stage of production with this purpose.’

Hurley hails from Australia, and he began his career at Lethbridge Wines in the Bellarine Peninsula, near Melbourne. He then worked at wineries in Montpellier, Bordeaux, Turin, Barolo, Beaune and finally Gusbourne in Kent before joining London Cru.

Roberson, a renowned wine importer and retailer, set up the urban winery with a partner, but he is now the sole owner.

It began production 2013, and it now sells exclusively English wines, including Bacchus, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and pét-nat, along with a Blanc de Blancs and a sparkling rosé.

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