Producer of the Month: Bolney Wine Estate
The Bolney Wine Estate story began in 1972, when owners Janet and Rodney Pratt planted three acres of vines to create what was then only the sixth commercial vineyard in England.
Sam Linter, Rodney and Janet's daughter, took the reins in the mid-1990s and is now ably assisted by Winemakers Liz Garrett, who returned from a vintage at Cloudy Bay in 213, and Alex Rabagagliati, who has gained experience in Mosel, Margaret River and Sonoma. All are graduates of the esteemed Plumpton College in East Sussex, England. Today, Bolney Wine Estate has grown to 39 acres (15.8 ha), with a state of the art winery added in 2005.
In addition to the Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which thrive on the site, the vineyards become home to a handful of other varieties that have, over the years, proved very successful.
The sandstone soils are some of the best in the country, providing the ideal setting to grow vines. Bolney Wine Estate sparkling wines are produced following the same traditional method as is used to produce Champagne, providing luxurious, flavour-filled wines.
The Estate, under Sam's exacting eye, specialises in producing premium red, white, rose and sparkling English wines that have won numerous international awards, and legions of fans, all over the world.
Why do you do what you do?
I first came into the business to support my parents, who were running it at the time. Wanting to help my family was soon joined by a growing passion for this industry. When I came on the scene English Wine was still a very new concept and we were one of the pioneering vineyards experimenting with winemaking and changing the public's perceptions. I started off as Winemaker, but eventually took over as Managing Director and Head Winemaker, as I saw such potential for the business and wanted to see where I could take it. The rest is history - with help from some amazing people over the years we have created a strong and recognisable brand. I'd never want to do anything else!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love making marketing plans and being out and about engaging with key people. I also enjoy the creative side of the winemaking and coming up with exciting new wines with my team.
What do you least enjoy about your job?
Being the MD means getting bogged down with budgets and financial planning which sometimes takes away from the more creative aspects of running a business. I also attend a huge amount of meetings a week and I much prefer to be proactive and getting on with things rather than stuck in the board room and hours of discussions!
What achievement are you most proud of?
Some of our Gold medal wins. We won an outstanding gold medal int he IWSC for our Blanc de Blancs 2007 and then this year we won a record 5 golds across different renowned competitions for our Eighteen Acre Rose, Cuvee Rose, Bacchus, Pinot Gris and our Cellar Door. The Pinot Gris was also awards a double trophy in the UK wine awards. Am amazing achievement for the team.
Why should we buy British produce?
Because we have plenty of quality British produce in this country and lots of business work very hard to make their passion a reality. There's something really special about drinking an amazing wine from your local county that rivals that of the most favour wine-producing countries in the world.
How do you think we should be promoting British?
By talking about it! Share with your family and friends the food you love.
If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
British produce - Great taste on your doorstep
What's on the menu this evening?
Tuna steaks with lemon and coriander couscous with avocado.
How can people get hold of your produce?
Come and pay us a visit and enjoy our vineyard at the same time! Come and learn about how we make our wine and then take some bottles to enjoy back home. Or simply order online: www.bolneywineestate.com