A new winery is set to being holding vineyard tours after securing a licence this week.
On Thursday (July 11), a panel of Rother District councillors granted a licence for the sale of alcohol at the Mountfield Court Winery near Robertsbridge.
Under the terms of the licence, the winery will be able to sell its sparking wine online and during a small number of vineyard tours each year (no more than 10 per calendar year).
In making their decision, councillors heard from winery owner Simon Fraser about his plans for the business. He said: “I think the tours could be very important for us. We don’t know yet but increasing public awareness of our brand is really helped by people coming to see us.
“In terms of alcohol consumption and disturbance, we might be offering people a small glass of sparkling wine to taste, but there wouldn’t be any consumption during the tour.
“We are not in the business of trying to run a bar to keep people there for a long, long time and we have said the hours of the tour – which I estimate to be about two hours total – [would be] between 10am and 3pm.
“We haven’t done them yet, so we don’t know if they are going to work, but we think they could be incredibly important for our business.”
Councillors also heard from Mr Fraser’s neighbours Brian and Victoria Staley, who had objected to the licence application over concerns around noise disturbances.
Mr Staley said: “We moved to this address for peace and seclusion.
“The winery was developed in 2016. While the redevelopment work was going on we learned fairly quickly how disruptive that work was.
“We were unable to use our garden because there was so much noise coming in.
“The purpose of me saying that, is we have concerns about local noise and how these proposals will affect our ability to enjoy the garden.”
Mr and Mrs Staley also raised concerns about additional traffic on the road outside their home.
In granting the licence, the panel agreed to adopt the conditions offered by Mr Fraser.
These conditions included a limit of 10 wine tours per calendar year, with no more than 30 people on each. They also cover the sale of alcohol online and its delivery.
However, the panel also put in place two additional conditions, including one requiring all alcohol consumption to take place within a set tasting room.
The second additional condition requires all visitors to be directed to the vineyard via the A21 entrance, in an effort to avoid additional traffic going past Mr and Mrs Staley’s home.