Lurgashall Winery: a family affair
PUBLISHED: 00:16 09 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:16 20 February 2013
Lurgashall Winery in West Sussex, which has recently gone under new ownership, is truly a family affair. Director Sarah Thompson told Kate Eastman that the company is looking forward to a bright future
The Lurgashall Winery nestles in a 38-acre estate beneath Blackdown Hill, the highest point in West Sussex. It is housed in award-winning 17th and 19th century farm buildings, whose rustic style complements the country nature of the products.
New director and owner of Lurgashall Winery Sarah Thompson explains, "I am responsible for sales, generating new business, marketing, PR, events, shop, staff, deliveries, warehouse, generally everything at the moment except for accounts.
The business is family-run along with my father Stephen Perham, mother Christine Perham, husband Nathan Thompson and my two children Ben aged 5 and Eddie aged 3.
Lurgashall Winery currently only has one member of staff from outside the family, Ian Morris, who is the head wine maker. He has been with the winery for over 20 years.
Ians duties include the creation of new products, ensuring the consistency of the existing wines and assisting me with any other duties, says Sarah.
With Ians expertise were proud to offer traditional English liqueurs, meads and wines made only from the finest natural ingredients, none of which are touched by any essences, flavourings or artificial ingredients plus they are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The winery itself has been established
for more than 25 years and Sarahs company has owned it since August 2010. The company was well established and at its peak five to seven years ago, its turnover was approaching 1m, explains Sarah.
The past couple of years have been difficult and even established businesses were affected by the downturn. We as a family knew the previous owner and my father Steve even helped with the set up of the winery.
When we knew the business had become available we decided to take on the challenge. We did not want to see a good, well-known, English product come to an end and a stunning property be turned into flats. This is such a unique opportunity, we knew that we would regret not taking it on and its a beautiful place for my children to grow up and go to school.
At present Lurgashall sells approximately 15 varieties of alcohol, says Sarah: Our most popular products are Silver Birch Wine, Elderflower Wine, Elderberry Port and Meads. We currently have 25 Silver Birch Trees on our land which we tap for sap when it is rising between February and March, and all other products are sourced as locally as possible - for example we are going to start sourcing our honey for the meads from Payne's Honey Farm in Hassocks.
Sarah and the family have only been up and running for a few months but have grown from selling nothing to 2,500 bottles per month. They plan to expand their range of wines in the future and continue to discover new and exciting wines, beers, ciders and other local produce.
It is very important for us to support local producers to reduce our carbon footprint and enable employment and revenue, says Sarah."We will be expanding our shop next year so we can continue to supply tea, coffee, homemade cakes and supply light food which will include tapas and cheese boards."
Lurgashall Winery also has an on licence which allows customers to purchase alcohol by the glass. We are also looking at opening in the evenings so people can enjoy local wine, cider, beer and cocktails which we are currently creating" says Sarah.
I personally like the Walnut Liqueur, it is unique and I particularly enjoy it in a Walnut Coffee. My husbands favourite is Elderberry Port, perfect for cold winter nights and Christmas, with or without cheese.
Lurgashalls products are available to purchase from their website and across the county at Arundel Castle, Pallant Deli in Arundel, Highdown Vineyard, Ferring, Goodwood Farm Shop, Lurgashall Village Shop, Harveys of Lewes and Middle Farm in Lewes.
ANOTHER SUSSEX PRODUCER
Both Barrels Ltd
t/a The Manor Cellars, Merrydown Forecourt, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex, TN21 OBZ
Contact: Richard Purdey
Tel: 01435 812257
E-mail: via A Taste of the South East
Both Barrels is the new brand name for former Merrydown range of Sussex fruit wines, and mead.
They operate from the old Merrydown off licence in Horam and welcome trade and wholesale enquiries.