The first of 700,000 vines have been planted at Rathfinny Estate.
Consumers are starting to clock onto the fact that England can produce some very nice sparkling wine. But what has previously been a small pursuit among few ambitious wine makers is now a major operation.
East Sussex is set to become home to England's largest vineyard from today (March 26th), when the first of 700,000 vines are planted at the Rathfinny Estate.
Once complete, the vineyard will be one of the largest in Europe, totalling 400 acres of luscious Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Riesling grapes.
The site near the coast in Alfriston will first be planted with 50 acres of vines, with a further 50 acres planted each year until 2020.
It is the pet project of former hedge fund boss Mark Driver, and estate manager Cameron Roucher, who has moved from New Zealand to be part of the endeavour.
According to the pair, the land at the estate is just like that of Champagne 88 miles away, in terms of soil, climate and geography.
You've got some time to wait to see if the wine lives up to the estate's promise, though. Small amounts of still wine will be produced as early as next year, but the real star performer, the sparkling wine, will not come onto shelves until about 2017.
"High quality Sussex sparkling wine requires at least three years of bottle fermentation, so everyone will have to be patient while they wait!," Driver said.
He is keen not only to challenge the sparkling wine producers in Kent, but also those across the Channel.
"English sparkling wine is already very highly regarded and I hope Rathfinny will be compared favourably with the likes of Bollinger and Pol Roger," he remarked.
"I want Rathfinny to be sold not just in the best restaurants in London, but in Paris, New York, Beijing and Hong Kong as well."
Chances could be good. The land sits on a south-facing slope and is sheltered from south-westerly winds.
But just how likely are we to swap Champagne and even Prosecco for English sparkling wines?
Among the wine industry, England has achieved a good reputation for producing great-tasting fizz, but they do have a poor media image as we still think of the UK as having poor weather and a cool climate. But there are some great food and wine pairings with English fizz. Not only this, but at the last harvest, English winegrowers reported a good year with an early spring and mostly dry summer.
This means that the 2011 crop should come out on top and rival the likes of Champagne and other French sparkling wines.
Of course, there are other ways to increase the popularity of English wine. A trend for locally-grown produce is one way to get consumers buying British, while getting the message out about award-winning English wine could to boost its name.
This summer's London Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee could also get patriotic types toasting over some Kent or Sussex fizz.