Solar panels fuel grain store and winery

A 200-panel solar scheme unveiled by Wiston Estate, near Steyning, will produce enough energy to run a grain store and winery at its North Farm base.

The 50kW solar photovoltaicroof panels, installed by Southern Renewables and switched on last Thursday, are just the first part of a long term move by to improve the estate’s carbon footprint and reduce its environmental impact.

Wiston Estate in Steyning is owned and managed by the Goring family, who have been its custodians since 1743 and who are wholly committed to the overall conservation and preservation of their land. The scheme at North Farm is a beginning towards achieving the family’s goal of upgrading facilities in as sustainable a way as possible, safeguarding the estate for future generations.

The scheme, at the former turkey farm, was toasted success by Harry and Pip Goring and their son, Richard, appropriately with the first bottles of champagne-type wine produced from their winery on the same site.

Richard said:“The winery is a new venture, built and developed in 2008, and we are excited that it will enable us to be a more sustainable wine producer. The vision for Wiston Estate wine has always been to work with nature and this strongly follows that line of thinking.

“We are also looking at installing a biomass boiler-this will be the third on the estate- again part of our vision to future-proof the business against some of the environmental and economic challenges that we face. We expect to produce 353,679 kWh units of electricity each year. “

The winery, which will also be powered by the new solar system, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting new sparkling wine enterprises in country today. Run for the Goring family by Dermot Sugrue, previously based at Nyetimber vineyard, it was established exclusively for the production of traditional method English sparkling wines, and principally to offer contract winemaking services to external vineyards.

But the facilities are also used to create exceptional sparkling wines from Wiston Estate’s own Findon Park Vineyard.

The winery’s innovative design is unique to the UK. The press room is located on the first floor so juice from the traditional Coquard Champagne press flows by gravity to the tank hall at ground level. Split-level stainless steel tanks, each with automatic temperature-control, allow optimum juice fractioning, settling, fermentation and malolactic processes to be carried out with total precision.

A range of barrels, of different size, age and cooperage are maintained - and the estate’s first bottles were filled, corked and has their unique Wiston Estate labels placed on them last week.

Pip Goring, originally from one of the best wine-growing areas of South Africa, who was also involved in the start of the winery, has a vision of opening up its vast first floor for community use, with even a small family-type restaurant