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Dermot Sugrue steps down as head winemaker at Wiston Estate

Published:  18 March, 2022

It is the end of an era at Wiston Estate following the announcement that Dermot Sugrue will be stepping down as head winemaker after 16 years with the estate.

Under Sugrue's stewardship, the West Sussex-based vineyard won ‘Winery of the Year’ at the WineGB awards in 2018, 2020 and 2021.

The talented winemaker will now focus on his sparkling wine label ‘Sugrue South Downs’, which he runs with his fiancé Ana Ðogic.

Filling Sugrue's shoes at Wiston Estate will be Marcus Rayner, working alongside the outgoing winemaker for four years.

Rayner has recently returned from a stint in Champagne, working with Dermot’s former mentor Jean Manuel Jacquinot.

Richard Goring, Wiston Estate CEO, said: “Dermot joined us at Wiston because he was so excited by the potential of the vines my parents had planted on the farm in 2006. It has been a remarkable journey together over these past 15 years. 

“From the moment we first loaded the Coquard press, he has pioneered a winemaking style that has enabled the Wiston wines to reach their potential and been a tour de force in putting English wines at the top of the international sparkling category.”

Sugrue added: “Without question, these last 16 years at Wiston Estate have been the most thrilling, prolific, dramatic, and successful of my winemaking career – and life – to date. 

“The journey that I started with Harry and Pip Goring back in 2006 has been an extraordinary one, starting with just sticks in a field and an old turkey barn… to what it is today: three times winner of UK Winery of the Year, the fabulous Chalk Restaurant opened last year, and now a world-class visitor experience and tasting room.”

He added: “Marcus and I have worked together brilliantly since 2018, and I have no doubt he has everything he needs to steer the Wiston ship going forward. I have every faith that he will take on this challenge and thrive. Being part of the Wiston family is special and enduring, and we look forward to sharing our future journeys.”

Sugrue will continue to work at Wiston Estate until September 2022, when he will officially hand over the reins to Rayner. They are working on a smooth transition that has already begun.