Bolney’s story began in 1972 when owners and founders Janet and Rodney Pratt purchased the land and began their vineyard journey, first establishing the land under the original name of Bookers Vineyard. The land was then prepared ready to plant our very first vines. In 1973 the first 1,000 vines were planted across three acres to create what was then only the sixth commercial vineyard in England, these vines were Muller Thurgau variety, which produced a floral white wine. Fast forward to 1977 and we had planted our second vineyard block. With a total of 5,000 vines overall.
Experimental vines were planted in 1983 to see what would grow here at Bolney, these included Pinot Noir and Chardonnay along with six other varieties. The Pinot and Chardonnay proved to be a huge success. In 1985 we won our first award – a coveted Silver medal in the IWSC – for our ‘Bolney 1983’ white wine.
In 1995, Sam Linter, Rodney and Janet’s daughter, joined the business full time taking over the reins and started a growth and quality improvement plan from which we can now see the results. Later in the 90’s, in 1998 we made our very first red wine, this was a blended red wine, our hero Pinot Noir was to come later.
In 2002 we started to plant our Eighteen Acre Vineyard, which is an excellent site for vines, due to it’s south facing slope, sandstone soils and height of 35 metres above sea level. Following Sam’s growth and quality improvement plan, we built our first proper winery in 2005 which was officially opened by the then Secretary of State for DEFRA, the Rt Hon. Margaret Beckett MP. This new winery was made possible thanks to DEFRA who supported the build with a grant.
Diving in-to the Teens, we have seen some great things for our vineyard over the past decade. In 2012 we won ‘UK Wine Producer of the Year’ as well as Gold for our ‘Blanc de Blanc 2007’ in the International Wine and Spirit Competition. In 2015 our Pinot Gris became the first ever English Wine to be served at Wimbledon. The following year in 2016 we opened our doors to our visitors centre with a new café, shop and stunning viewing balcony. In 2017 we won ‘Winery of the Year’ and Gold again in the United Kingdom Vineyard Association Competition. And in 2019 we had the pleasure of welcoming HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who officially opened our new state-of-the-art winery.