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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Stuart and Sandy Moss, regarded by many as the makers of the best sparkling English wines, are selling their Nyetimber estate in West Sussex. Rumours that the couple were retiring to the US were denied by Sandy Moss. She told Harpers that they wished to concentrate on making and marketing the award-winning wines, but had decided to sell the 40 hectare estate in West Chiltington. The prospective new owner is believed to live locally. Stuart and Sandy intend to rent a house nearby and work as consultants. Sandy, who is currently the McAlpine English Winemaker of the Year, was previously a collector and dealer of early English oak furniture. The couple recently sold their collection at a Sotheby's auction. At the time of the proposed auction Stuart Moss said: "My wife and I have had great fun amassing this collection over the last 30 years, but now, as there are just the two of us, the house and the collection are too big." They bought Nyetimber after they spotted a vineyard on an oak furniture buying trip to Suffolk. Keen anglophiles, they were so taken with the idea of grape-growing and winemaking in England that they bought Nyetimber, despite the Ministry of Agriculture vine expert's advice to grow apples, as "there's no future in vines". The couple recently won four trophies at the English and Welsh Wines of the Year competition: the Gore-Browne Trophy for wine of the year; the Wine Guild Trophy for the best wine of any vintage; the Vintner's Trophy for Sparkling Wine; and the McAlpine award. Nyetimber also won a gold medal in the Bottled Fermented Sparkling Wine category of this year's International Wine & Spirit Challenge (IWSC). Wine consultant David Molyneux-Berry MW regards Nyetimber wines as the "finest sparkling wine in the UK by a large margin". Situated on the South Downs, he said Nyetimber has the same soil as Champagne and, if anything, a slightly better climate, with a drier autumn. "It is a model winery - the best in the country," he said.