Having recently joined the team at Tillo, and hearing about the legendary away days around the office, with activities ranging from axe throwing, quad biking, helping out at a local farm and GoApe, you’d have to forgive me for being a little excited for this one!

It didn’t disappoint. Briony, Alex, and Gareth had organised a trip to the prestigious Ridgeview Wine Estate in Ditchling.

Our itinerary for the day looked a little like this

10:45 – 11:00 - Arrival
11:00 – Tour of vineyard and winery
12:00 – Tasting of Ridgeview Wines
12:30 – Lunch (Best of British platters) served alongside a glass of Ridgeview
14:00 – Taxis to The Bull (Ditchling)

There was a really nice touch by Briony (Head of People) to invite our latest Tillo team member (Charley) who hadn’t even started yet to come along to meet the team, and what a day for it.

We all met at Burgess Hill for 10:30 where we had a convoy of local taxis ready and waiting to take us to the beautiful Ridgeview Estate. Little did the last taxi know, they’d be waiting a little longer for one of Tillo’s many Jakes!

Sophie also found time to run-through of the history of the Estate, and dropped a little note to the trophy wall, which houses a trophy for ‘Best Sparkling Wine in the World’, from Decanter in 2010…. We didn’t get to try it.

The day started quite slow as we were early, which meant waiting in the very well designed Ridgeview tasting room, which has stunning views over the South Downs and vineyard. Once the last Jake turned up, we were welcomed by the very passionate and energetic Sophie, who gave us a brief intro to the wine making process and answered any questions the gang had. Sophie also found time to run-through of the history of the Estate, and dropped a little note to the trophy wall, which houses a trophy for ‘Best Sparkling Wine in the World’, from Decanter in 2010…. We didn’t get to try it.

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From the tasting room we were then ushered outside to the vineyard which was super sunny (it had been raining all day), where Sophie went through more details of the history and winemaking process. We had actually arrived at a very busy period for the Estate, the picking and processing was in full flow, which was cool, but did mean we didn’t get to go into the wine cellar or see any of the huge vats up close. For good reason really, because the winemaking process had begun, which includes fermenting the grapes, so the cellar and tanks would have been letting off a lot of C02!

We were then guided back inside to another beautiful tasting room that had been perfectly laid out to feed and water 20+ Tilloers, who by now were wondering whether there was going to be wine on this wine tour - a la Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.

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If there was ever any doubt, it was not warranted because what happened next felt like we were being treated to the best sparkling wine the British Isles is currently producing, being paired with local East/West Sussex farm produce and some delicious vegan options, whilst we overlook the downs and the vines that our wine came from.

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The food and drink was a delight and as the volume in the room was reaching fever pitch, we realised there was still 45 minutes until our taxi’s would arrive, so, Gareth did what all good leaders would when a situation like this arises. He stood up, took center stage at the front of the room, and asked us whether we’d all like some more bubbles… the roar from us made some of the Ridgeview winemakers in the yard chuckle.

Some of the wines we sampled.

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Once the taxis did arrive, we somehow seemed to dodge the rain once again before moving onto our final team stop, The Bull in Ditchling. I’d never been to this pub before, but I’d highly recommended. It has great beer, very fancy and tasty food menu and the staff were super friendly (even happy to allow Gareth to get some work experience and try his hand at being apart of their waitstaff).

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As with all good things, they must come to an end, right?

Not so, if you’re with Simon, Jake and Jasper who I joined for a beer back in Brighton, while they carried on long into the night, at the Caxton Arms. This was a lovely way to cap off my first Tillo team away day, with a lesson we learned from Ridgeview earlier that day, and the message they put on the inside of every bottle they produce, a gentle reminder that “life is for celebrating”.

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