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Our biggest pushes were in 2005 when we built a state-of-the-art winery and warehouse (made a nice change from the old farm buildings!) and then again in 2016 when we added a second floor in the warehouse and created a new visitors centre - finally building proper offices, tour rooms and a restaurant and shop, with a stunning viewing balcony over-looking our largest vineyard.
Me, Mum and Grandad with wine expert & celebrity Olly Smith at the launch of the new visitors centre in 2016
Today we are lucky to have outside investment from people that can see the talent and knowledge my mum has built up over 20+ years, and they can see a bright future for Bolney.
So how did I come to join this exciting business? Well for a start, I never dreamed that I would one day become a part of it. I thought I was off to study English and perhaps become a teacher or writer. I was concerned I would never prove myself if I did not go my own way.
Also, at family dinners we were always talking about the business, so I grew up subconsciously picking up on every success and setback the business experienced over the years, and I started to develop a love-hate relationship with the family firm. It was something I was always proud of, but it had a habit of taking over our lives and you can end up resenting that.
I was also never the outdoors type as a child, unlike my mum. In contrast, our cousins went camping in the vineyards, drove the little quadbike around and, as they got older, learnt how to drive the tractors and helped my uncle in his vineyard.
My younger brother and I used to make up games and stories instead. We would wheel a doll around in a toy pram and visited the wine shop pretending to be customers on holiday. We made things out of paperclips and played with Lego in the function room. But we did enjoy taking the vineyard dogs for a walk and going blackberry picking in the hedgerows with Grandma.
We were even occasionally of help. There are old pictures of myself picking grapes as a toddler and my Grandad used to give us pocket money for odd jobs, like washing the winery floor.
Me and my grandma at my christening in the old function room! Early 90s.
Our first grape press - late 1990s
Years later, when I left college, I somehow ended up doing some work experience at the vineyard, helping the events manager at the time with admin and tour bookings. I soon realised that there were many roles at Bolney, so not wanting to be a winemaker didn't mean I could not be an important part of things. I never really looked back after that.
It is a great honour to be part of the third generation of this amazing business and I hope to challenge myself to learn more from my mother as I continue to grow in this industry. At present I am marketing manager, which gives me the ability to work across departments.
Bolney Wine Estate is one of the places I love most in the world. Homes, friends and circumstances may change over the years, but the one thing that remains strong is my family and, of course, Bolney Wine Estate itself.
Mum and Grandma at Haywards Heath Rugby Club - circa 1995
Standing under the new Bolney Logo in 2016- me, my brother Matt, Mum, Uncle Mark, Dad and Neil (mum's Cousin).
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