Boss of renowned English vineyard who crashed his sports car after getting 'tipsy' at a wine tasting sued for 300,000 by injured girlfriend
Winemaker and his girlfriend had been at a London wine tasting since 11am Art Tukker, 24, then drove home from Haslemere station to West Sussex
Tukker escaped the crash of his TVR sports car unscathedHis ex-girlfriend was 'seriously injured' and had to be cut from wreckage
20:55 GMT, 22 March 2013
20:57 GMT, 22 March 2013
The owner of an English vineyard who crashed his sports car after getting 'tipsy' at a wine tasting is being sued for 300,000 by his injured former girlfriend.
Wine entrepreneur Art Tukker, 24, is one of the most influential people in the British wine industry as the owner of the Tinwood Estate vineyard, near Chichester in Sussex.
Having consumed a 'significant amount of alcohol' at a 5 hour wine tasting at Millbank Tower in London on March 8 2010, Tukker crashed his two-seater TVR convertible on the A286 driving home in West Sussex.
Jetset: Lucinda Stevens, left, with her ex-boyfriend vineyard owner Art Tukker on a skiing holiday together. She is now suing him after his drink driving caused a car crash in which she says she was seriously injured
Wine enthusiast: Lucinda Stevens had been at the wine tasting with Tukker before he drove home, prompting Tukker's lawyer to claim that she was 'exposing herself to injury' by knowing he was likely to have been drinking
His ex-girlfriend, 26-year-old wine business graduate Lucinda Fleur Stevens from Chichester, had to be cut from the wreckage of the overturned sports car by firemen.
She told the court that she sustained a fractured neck and back, broken ribs and a smashed and dislocated breast bone, while Tukker escaped unharmed.
Stevens is suing Tukker for a minimum of 300,000, blaming the winemaker's decision to drink-drive for the 'serious injuries' she suffered.
However, the young vineyard boss is fighting the case, claiming his girlfriend 'exposed herself to a
foreseeable risk of injury' by getting in the sports car when she 'knew
that he had been drinking alcohol.'
is said to have lost control while driving between Haslemere station
and his vineyard.
His lawyers admit that the accident
was caused by the viticulturalist's drink driving and he pleaded to
guilty to driving when he was over the limit.
However, in his Tukker's defence, Roger
Harris, Mr Tukker's barrister, argued that her 'injuries, loss and
damage were contributed to by her own negligence' because she decided to
travel with him in the knowledge he had been drinking that afternoon.
Boutique vineyard: Art Tukker's website for his Tinwood Estate wines
Harris argued that Stevens was aware that Mr Tukker may have been unfit to drive.
THE WINE ENTREPRENEUR'S ESTATE
Art Tukker has been growing three different grape varieties since 2007 at his vineyard, The Tinwood Estate, on the edge of the South Downs national park in West Sussex.
Tukker's estate grows
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the grapes used to make
Champagne. He makes his own wine and supplies grapes to winemakers Ridgeview to make their 'world class English sparkling wine.'
Ridgeview provided the wine served at the recent state banquet for President Obama in 2010.
Tukker describes his own brand of wine as having 'aromas of citrus melon fruits with hints of toast and honey.'
He said: 'Miss Stevens knew that, during the course of the tasting, Mr Tukker had, or was likely to have, consumed a significant amount of alcohol.
'Miss Stevens and Mr Tukker had dinner together and had then travelled together to Haslemere station by train.
Mr Tukker appeared 'tipsy' following the wine tasting.'
Therefore Mr Tukker's lawyer claimed that Stevens had 'exposed herself to a forseeable risk of injury,' he claims.
Addressing the extent of the injuries Miss Stevens suffered and the value of her claim, the barrister says: 'It is admitted that Miss Stevens suffered some injury in the accident.
However no admissions are made as to the extent of any injuries suffered.'
On a blog about his career, Mr Tukker wrote that, when he decided to study viticulture: 'I thought I was being extremely clever by doing something where I would get the chance to drink, all in the name of 'education''.
He added that the 'best part' of his job is sampling fine wines.