Part 3! Food & Beverage Academy: To the vineyard for one glass, or a few...

We’re back to learn something new about the drinks behind our bars this month. On the Food & Beverage Academy journey so far, we’ve met the team at The Grand Brighton who are partaking in a nine-month plan of culinary training sessions and behind the scenes food and drink experiences. You can read more about the academy in part one and part two of our blog series, where we left the team learning all about fishing and preparing locally sourced seafood.

This month we hear from Aleksandra, one of our hotel's Food and Beverage Attendants, who shares her experience of the group’s trip exploring local vineyards and breweries in Sussex...

“Our first stop was Bluebell Vineyard in Uckfield. It may not have been quite the right weather to visit an outdoor estate, but I couldn't help but find the whole place magnificent anyway - it’s such a beautiful setting!”

“Our tour started in the outbuildings which were formerly used as pig sheds, leading out to stunning panoramic views of the vineyards where we learnt about the history of the estate. Originally one of the largest pig farms in the UK, the owners of Bluebell Vineyard Estates chose to to transform their land’s purpose from swine to vine in 2005. Now 14 years on it’s clear that the work done to the 100 acres of wine-harvested land is enormous.”

“As part of our training session, the tour guide explained what a ‘vintage wine’ is - wines made exclusively from grapes grown in a single year - and that this particular vineyard only harvests the wine in this way, meaning that every bottle is unique year on year. We also learnt how to protect the grapes from insects and diseases, and that the climatic conditions in Sussex are the perfect environment for grape growing. It’s apparently neither too hot, nor too cold!

“The vineyard tour concluded in a wine tasting session. What a treat! Each of us got to try four glasses from a selection of sparkling and still wines from the Bluebell collection, including popular Hindleap and Ashdown Vintage bottles.”

“When we got back to the van, we were all sure we were heading back home until our supervisors surprised us with the next destination: Bedlam Brewery. Located seemingly in the middle of nowhere near Ditchling Common, we pulled up to a shed surrounded by giant metal pipes. Honestly, I thought that maybe we were lost.”

“But it all made sense when we were greeted by Danny Hoskins, Sales Director of Bedlam Brewery, who showed us the sights. The first thing he pointed out was the solar panels and technology surrounding the brewery - this is what all the mystery metal was! Danny explained that the business relocated to build this new solar-powered brewery back in 2016 as a way of creating zero-waste beer and ales. This sustainable ethos is carried through the whole production process at the brewery, where spent grain is fed to cattle and hops are used for compost.”

“On our tour, we got to explore where the manufacturing process takes place. We also tasted the liquid produced in the first stage of processing where barley is boiled in water forming a type of tea (a very strange thing I have to say). Then we tasted ale ready to be bottled directly from the tank and also several ales from their production line. All delicious.”

“To top off the trip we went to the Tap House, The Bull in Ditchling. Situated in a building dating back to the early 16th century, this renowned pub was recently renovated. Now it has six beautiful rooms, an amazing dining space inside and great garden - a really lovely spot to rest up with a few more drinks and a marvellous way to end a great day of learning!”

Watch this space for more experiences shared by our Food and Beverage Academy team, and to try the delicious ingredients for yourself, explore dining at The Grand Brighton here