Rooted in the land – Our sustainable origins

Reflections from Ridgeview's Founder

As our founder Chris Roberts’ 80th birthday approaches, we take a look back on Ridgeview’s origin story where the seeds of sustainability were sown. Chris reflects on the deep respect for the land upon which Ridgeview was built – an ethos that has guided us for nearly three decades.

Ridgeview Wine Estate, Bluebells in the woodland

Rooted in the land

Turn the clocks back to 1995 and you’d find no trace of a vineyard here, no sign that this secret jewel in the crown of the Sussex countryside would become the home of English sparkling wine. Brimming with winemaking potential, this extraordinary place was met by extraordinary people (founders Chris and Mike Roberts) whose pioneering vision was to reimagine what English winemaking could be.

“Mike and I knew we could create astonishing sparkling wine to rival the world’s very best, right here in Sussex. Nothing like this had been done before, but one thing was clear, we had everything we needed, right here in the ground.”

It was the lie of the land and its perfect position, nestled within the rolling South Downs hills, that first caught their eye. With unique qualities for growing the ‘holy trinity’ of grape varieties traditionally associated with the Champagne region (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), they were set to put English sparkling wine on the global stage. And so, our symbiotic relationship with the land began.

“Sustainability wasn’t a term we used back then; it was just an unspoken mindset that we naturally lived and breathed. There was simply no question, we were dedicated to making the very best of the land and to do everything to preserve it for the future.”

Ridgeview Wine Estate English sparkling wine Sussex England


A reed bed was planted to create a natural system for drainage, using water reeds alone to filter waste. There are still reeds growing here at Ridgeview, in the woods at the back of our winery, as a beautiful reminder of where it all began.

Taking inspiration from the traditions of French Champagne Houses, Chris and Mike built a bespoke underground wine cellar, one of the first of its kind in this country, to create the optimum conditions for ageing the finest sparkling wines. Using the natural ground temperature and air flow, our self-regulating, sunken cellar requires no energy usage or air conditioning, and to this day, it still houses around 50% of the wine we produce.

Even the earth, dug out for the cellar, was given a new lease of life, beautifully landscaped into garden terracing for Chris and Mike’s home on the estate. It formed a magical viewing point overlooking the Chardonnay vines and out towards the South Downs Ridge that inspired the ‘Ridgeview’ name.

Ridgeview Wine Estate English sparkling wine Sussex England

“We utilised every natural resource we could, instinctively recycling, reusing and repurposing everything on the estate. Waste was simply not an option, and we never took anything for granted.”


Our first winery was housed in the original stables on the estate, where the earliest batches of wine from the 1996 and 1997 vintage years were made. Some of our earliest tanks are still in use now almost thirty years on.

“We wanted to make the best use of the buildings we inherited with the land. Working in such a small area makes you conscious of the importance of not wasting anything. Everything has to be in the right place and used properly and precisely. We learnt a lot from having very little to play with.”

Quality and craftsmanship were core principles right from the start, from our precise hand-labelling to the pursuit of winemaking excellence those early days continue to set the benchmark for the world-class wine we produce today.


Mike Roberts was awarded an MBE in 2011 for his services to the English wine industry and after he passed away in 2014, Ridgeview moved into a new phase as a second generation family business. Today, we are led by Tamara Roberts (Chris and Mike’s daughter) as CEO and their son, Simon Roberts, as Head Winemaker with their respective partners (and even their children) playing important roles.

‘Never resting’ is somewhat of a mantra at Ridgeview and sustainability is no exception. Becoming founder members of the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain scheme in 2020 and an accredited B Corporation in 2022 is testament that our sustainability commitments grow ever stronger. But it’s also the little things, like the colony of bees we now have on the estate, the bug boxes and log piles to improve biodiversity or the cedar cladding and local Sussex flint at our bar and restaurant, The Rows & Vine. It all plays a part.

The vines at Ridgeview Wine Estate English sparkling wine Sussex England

“A lot has changed since those early days, but our values will always stay the same; quality, sustainability and innovation is woven into our DNA.

Ridgeview will always be my home. It’s where I walk the dogs and watch the team tending to the vines. Every day I marvel at this wonderful place and the relationship we’ve nurtured with the land.”




Get to the heart of England’s finest sparkling wine with Ridgeview’s award-winning wine club, OurView. Ridgeview wine club membership unlocks a host of exclusive benefits – from generous member pricing and access to rare archive wines to secret wine club events and so much more. Step into a whole new world of celebration as an OurView wine club member.

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