Posted on 13th July 2016
On Tuesday this week 35 members assembled at Ridgeview Wine Estate for what has become an annual treat – an introduction to the winery, a presentation and some wine tasting. We were greeted by Tamara Roberts, the CEO, who runs the estate with her family. Tamara is not only welcoming but wonderfully unpretentious and matter of fact about the business, which now makes national news in the wine industry for its excellence.
The rain held off while we stood outside to get some idea of the scale of the operation. Tamara took us through the first planting of vines in 1995 and went on to explain the changes in scale of production and the ongoing challenges to be overcome annually in producing top quality wine in England. Apart from a number of potentially lethal plant diseases, frost is the biggest worry in the spring and early summer. The picture here shows the night in April this year when all the candles in the vineyard had to be lit to provide the extra warmth needed to protect against a sharp frost. We then went inside to hear Tamara describe and explain in brief the processes involved in making the wine after the grapes have been harvested. Interestingly, the harvesting is always done by workers from the European mainland, and I wonder now if the recent referendum decision, which clearly did not delight the Roberts family, will impact on that aspect of the business.
We then went up to the tasting room and heard a fascinating presentation by Tim Rose, the Facilities Manager at Rockwell Collins UK. This is a giant of a company, with HQ in Iowa, USA, who took over the former SEOS business five years ago. Tim gave us an insight into what they do in the fields of aviation and avionics. Among many other things they produce flight simulators, including most of the ones currently in use in Sussex for pilot training. This is another company of which Burgess Hill can rightly be proud – Rockwell Collins features among the top 100 companies worldwide. I’m pleased to report that they also offer visits and support sessions to local schools in the quest to produce more students of engineering.
Finally, we enjoyed almost an hour of networking whilst tasting the finest sparlking wine accompanies by some nibbles. The wine was of course very well received, the atmosphere was extrememly pleasant and I feel sure that most people went home happy, although it was still raining when we left.
My thanks to all those who came along on a damp summer evening and especially to Tamara and her family for once again putting on this event for us. It is always a pleasure to visit Ridgeview, and theirs is a success story of which Burgess Hill and Sussex can be very proud.
"This association was started with a lot of effort from a few local businessmen and has proved to be a very powerful and useful tool for our business. The BHBPA has influence at the top level; when action is needed, the BHBPA gets it done. We are kept in touch with all that is happening on our doorstep and will often act because of what is published in the weekly emails / newsletters."
"“Sutton Winson have been members of the BHBPA for around 7 years. We have found it a great way to keep in touch with Burgess Hill businesses and to meet with likeminded people. It’s not just another “networking” group, as it tackles the real issues and gets things done”"
"The BHBPA is the most effective and dynamic business organisation I have ever worked with in over 30 years in Local Government. It has a very active and large membership whose points of view are taken seriously by all government structures. Peter Liddell does an excellent job in providing unique and enjoyable networking opportunities where members interact and discuss points of mutual interest. It provides a forum for businesses to discuss common issues, to share experiences and to play a powerful and meaningful role in the Burgess Hill community. The BHBPA provides important and credible support for all its members and ensures that their best interests are represented where necessary. "
"I am delighted to have a long-standing relationship with the BHBPA. Since its foundation the Association has gone from strength to strength and there is no doubt that it has brought huge benefits to its members and the business community as a whole through the partnerships it has formed with the local authorities, Sussex Police and local organisations. It is paramount that Burgess Hill businesses have an effective collective voice."