East Anglian vineyards are toasting a vintage performance at a national awards event.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Angus Crowther picks Pinot Meunier grapes at Tuffon Hall in Sible Hedingham.Angus Crowther picks Pinot Meunier grapes at Tuffon Hall in Sible Hedingham.

Halstead wine producers Tuffon Hall said they were “chuffed to bits” after scooping a highly prized gold award at the WineGB event, which was held in West Sussex.

In all, 34 gold, 98 silver and 113 bronze were awarded by a distinguished panel of judges which comprised TV wine experts Susie Barrie and Oz Clarke, and wine merchants Corney and Barrow wine buyer Rebecca Palmer.

MORE – Farmers distraught as harvest yields plummetPod Crowther of Tuffon Hall, in Sible Hedingham, who runs the vineyard with husband Angus, expressed delight at the win for their Pinot Rosé Beatrice 2019. Tuffon Hall also scooped a silver for its Amelie 2019.

Silvers also went to Saffron Grange Vineyard, run by Paul Edwards, in Little Walden, near Saffron Walden, for its Classic Cuvée 2017 and to Toppesfield Vineyard, run by Jane and Peter Moore of Halstead, for its Toppesfield Rosé 2019.

Giffords Hall Vineyard, run by Linda Howard, at Hartest, Bury St Edmunds, scooped bronzes for its St Edmundsbury Pinot Noir 2018, Bacchus 2019 and Madeleine Angevine 2019.

Toppesfield gained a bronze for its Bacchus Reserve 2019 and Saffron Grange for its Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2018.

Awards organisers said there was a record number of entries, with 27 counties represented. Sparkling wines dominated the top of the medal table, but successes for still wines on the rise. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Bacchus grape varieties continued to dominate the field. Susie Barrie said: “This year of all years it has been a competition to remember. We cannot overlook the extraordinary circumstances in which we judged and I’d like to thank every single person involved in ensuring the week ran smoothly.

“We three judges tasted some fantastic wines from a large number of producers and from right across the country. There are some very strong winners, both sparkling and still wines, in all categories. It was particularly pleasing to see new producers competing alongside long-established ones, proving that the UK is an ever-growing and hugely exciting region to watch. Congratulations to every single medal winner, you can feel very proud of what you have achieved.”

Co-Chair Oz Clarke said that for once, he and Susie had the chance to taste every wine.

“It made such a difference to our understanding of what is happening north to south, east to west. I feel I have learned so much about our exciting and vibrant Great British Wine world from this week of judging. It was very hard work, but to everyone - thank you very much.”

Sussex dominated the medal table with 48 medals, closely followed by Kent with 45. The Wessex region (Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire) gained 30 medals. Four urban wineries (three in London and one in Tyne & Wear) achieved seven medals between them.

Competition manager Belinda Mercer said it had been a “truly extraordinary year” for the WineGB Awards.

“From COVID-19 risk assessments, PPE equipment, sneeze screens, a reduced panel of three amazing and totally dedicated judges, a logistics team who were so professional and such a pleasure to work with, to our hosts, Ashling Park Estate, who provided us with the most glorious venue and incredible hospitality, the 2020 competition is one that will be etched on our memories for ever”.

Trophy winners – including the crowning of a supreme champion – will be announced at a special filmed virtual ceremony on Tuesday, September 8.