The Secret Vineyard
Who we are
Sisters Vicky and Helen Tate grew up roaming free around the nursery, riding shetland ponies,
swimming in ponds and hiding in amongst the rare conifers that their father grew.
Today as the 3rd generation in their family to run the nursery, they are embarking upon a new exciting chapter growing vines and making wine.
Helen has a background in wine, having studied at Plumpton College and Vicky brings a wealth of experience and knowledge with a background in horticulture.
Alan and Olive Tate moved from London to Sussex in the early 1940s and purchased the land at Lime Cross Nursery. They attempted to make a living from pig rearing and tobacco farming.
However, they settled on the production of cut flowers. This was successful throughout the 1940s, 50s and up to the 60s. In the 1970s.
Their son Jonathan joined the business, after working in various nurseries and travelling. Jonathan slowly began to transform and expand the nursery.
Alan and Olive both lived well into their eighties and had a blast throughout their retirement travelling as well as remaining actively involved in the community. The plant lines changed to container grown conifers, trees and shrubs, which were sold to the UK retail and wholesale market as well as internationally.
Jonathan developed a passion for propagating and collecting conifers, he experimented with different grafting techniques and quickly became known as an expert. He was a co-founding member of The British Conifer Society and contributed to many publications. He discovered conifers here on the nursery and rescued others from the brink of extinction.
Jonathan’s daughters, Vicky and Helen took the business over in 2014 when Jon sadly passed away from a long battle with cancer. They ran a café, garden and well-being centre for 8 years, then during the pandemic closed the shop and café.
The conifer nursery continues to thrive and in 2020, Helen and Vicky decided to plant, ‘The Secret Vineyard’. The name came about as there were many rumours circulating the village about what was going to happen to the newly closed business, including, building a supermarket and housing development. The vineyard was going to be a surprise to the community, however word leaked out, but the name stuck!
The Secret Vineyard is the newest chapter in this story, we hope that our father and grandparents would be happy about this decision, they all certainly enjoyed drinking wine and visiting wine regions, so we feel confident that they would approve.