DELIGHTED vineyard bosses have been toasting their success after winning a wine of the year crown.

The corks were popping at Tuffon Hall vineyard, in Castle Hedingham, after it won gold and silver for two of its tipples at the Wines of Great Britain Awards 2020.

The vineyard is run by husband and wife team Angus and Pod Crowther.

The awards have kept on coming after the vineyard’s Classic Cuvée won gold and was named wine of the year at the Wine GB East Anglia competition.

The Classic Cuvée is an English sparkling wine made of three different varieties of Champagne grapes.

The wine is made using a traditional method where the second fermentation takes place in the bottle.

Pod said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win the wine of the year for our English Sparkling Wine in the regional competition last week – it is such an honour to receive this award.

“We planted the three classic Champagne varieties – Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – which combined, produce our Classic Cuvée.

“This is the first award we have won for our sparkling wine, so for it to be recognised in such a way is incredible.

“We are very proud of our wines and the awards they win. It is important for Essex to maintain its place firmly on the map in the UK wine industry and we certainly give other more established regions a run for their money these days.”

The vineyard has soldiered on despite the lockdown, even after taking a big hit when it was forced to cancel months of wedding bookings due to the coronavirus.

Now with the lockdown restrictions eased, the vineyard hopes to return to a sense of normality.

Pod added: “Covid has had a huge impact on our business and the strategy we had planned in January went out of the window pretty quickly.

“We realised immediately that we needed to adapt and reach our customers in different ways, so we shifted our focus to using our digital channels more effectively and our loyal customers responded incredibly well.

“We managed to maintain the valuable relationships with them and introduce a drive-thru on Friday afternoons.

“Since the restrictions lifted, we have been able to refocus and welcome people back to the Cellar Door for both viewings and also wine tours and tastings.

“Digital played its part, however as a small family-run business, we rely heavily on face to face relationships and it has been lovely to see people again.

“This latest announcement will obviously impact us further, but we are a strong team.

“We have worked very hard to build our wine business and continue to do so in these difficult times.

“The grapes are still growing, we are still producing award-winning wines and hope to do so for a long while yet."