A PORTSLADE couple have won their first award for one of their handmade non-alcoholic drinks based on a 150-year-old recipe.

Chris and Rosemary Knox have not stopped smiling since they won the food and drink industry’s highest accolade for their Gran Stead’s Reduced Sugar Fiery Ginger Wine at the Good Choice! Quality Food Awards 2017, which took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair.

“We have been shortlisted twice before, but this is the first time we have won and we are over the moon,” says Chris. “We can’t wait to put the winning logo on our labels.”

At Mile Oak Farm in Portslade, Gran Stead’s Ginger Company produces six “traditional and nostalgic” drinks: Mellow Ginger, Fiery Ginger, Lemonade With Zing, Still Lemonade, Blackcurrant With Zing and Spiced Ginger Punch. The drinks, made from ginger extracted from the roots with no artificial preservatives used, are sold at local food festivals and through local stockists including Infinity Foods and Hisbe, both in Brighton. Throughout December, Gran Stead will be at RHS Wisley.

They are inspired by the original recipe for Gran Stead’s Mellow Ginger, which was created by Christiana ‘Granny’ Stead, who was born in the 19th century and lived in the picturesque village of Middleton-in-Teesdale in the north of England. The Knox family became the keepers of the recipe in 1994, then and Len and Dot Knox bought the recipe and began preparing Gran Stead’s Ginger from home to sell at craft fairs.

Twenty years later, the company is run by Len and Dot’s son Chris and his wife Rosemary, producing its six drinks at Mile Oak Farm in Portslade. All except one contains Granny Stead’s “beloved ginger”, the exception being Still Lemonade. “We’re sure Granny wouldn’t mind this break with tradition,” says Chris. “After all, as she would doubtless agree, ‘A change is as good as a rest’.”

Chris retired from the police to run Gran Stead. “It’s very different and challenging,” he says. “I don’t regret the change of direction at all – a couple of years ago, I was on a plane flying to Lithuania to meet a stockist. Who would have thought?”

Above: the award-winning Gran Stead Reduced Sugar Fiery Ginger Wine
Main picture, top: Chris and Rosemary Knox at Mile Oak Farm
Below: Chris and Rosemary with their award

The Good Choice! Quality Food Awards 2017 recognise products that excel in both taste and as `better choice’ options. A 24-strong panel of judges took three days to assess more than 200 products, all of which were judged on taste, flavour, texture, aroma, ingredients, innovations, packaging, presentation and price point.

The award for Gran Stead’s Reduced Sugar Fiery Ginger Wine comes hot on the heels of a string of recent accolades given to the Gran Stead’s Ginger Company.

Recently, it won stars for two of its products in the internationally acclaimed Great Taste Awards.

Gran Stead’s Mellow Ginger Wine and Spiced Ginger Punch can now carry the Great Taste Award seal of approval after receiving a star each from judges for being “simply delicious”.

Gran Stead’s Ginger Company is a member of the food and drink network Local Food Britain, and a regular at local food festivals. Local Food Britain founder Tracy Carroll said: “The Good Choice! Quality Food Award is hugely recognisable across the food and drink industry and very well deserved. Chris and Rosemary work so hard to produce quality, delicious drinks and it is great to see their efforts are being recognised by the food and drink elite and consumers alike.”

Visit gransteadsginger.co.uk.