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Ridgeview to make Waitrose own-brand sparkler

Sussex winery Ridgeview will make UK supermarket Waitrose’s own-brand sparkling wine, due to launch in 2014.

The grapes for the vintage sparkling white come from Waitrose’s own plantings on its 1,600 hectare Leckford estate in Hampshire, southern England.

The first harvest took place last week, with the grapes being sent straight to Ridgeview.

“English wine has never been so popular, with volume sales up 20% year on year. The Leckford vineyard is a supermarket first, which is leading the way for even more great wines to be made in this country,” said Waitrose wine buyer Matt Smith.

Waitrose is the biggest retailer of English sparkling wine in the country, with a 65% market share.

“We’re proud to have been chosen by Waitrose, which has been unrivalled in its support of English wine. The grapes looked wonderful when they were brought in for pressing and I’m sure they will make for award-winning wines when released,” said Mike Roberts MBE (pictured), owner of Ridgeview.

Waitrose announced in 2008 that it was to plant vines at Leckford. The farm also produces dairy, eggs, chickens, flour and a variety of fruit.

Wine consultant Stephen Skelton MW oversaw the vineyard project, which comprises plantings of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay on chalk hills and clay loam on either side of the River Test.

The supermarket said it felt the land was appropriate for growing grapes, due to its favourable exposure and similarity to the soils of Champagne and Chablis.

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