Hidden in the heart of rural Sussex, one of Britain’s most beautiful southern counties, lies the Bolney Wine Estate, a vineyard which carries on the tradition brought to Britain by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. This esteemed property is situated on a hill which was part of the Butting Hill One Hundred, listed in the Domesday Book in 1086, as the first official land survey of what is now the United Kingdom.
Village tradition has it that the Prince Regent was a frequent visitor to Bolney when traveling to Brighton, staying at Bolney Lodge of which Bolney Wine Estate formed a part in the 18th Century. This established star of the English wine scene saw its first three acres of commercial vineyard planted by owners Janet and Rodney Pratt back in 1972 as it was then known as Booker’s Vineyard. Since their daughter Samantha Linter took over as winemaker in 1990, Bolney has gone from strength to strength, expanding to 39 acres of vineyard and forging a reputation for impeccable quality, not just in sparkling wines but still expressions too, with Pinot Noir proving a particular strength. The vineyard is located on the edge of the South Downs, about 14 miles from the UK’s south coast, and comprises five unique vineyard sites at around 118ft above sea level. The vines here are between two and twelve years old and are planted at a density of 2,470 vines/ha. Extensive canopy management is carried out throughout the season to ensure the ideal microclimate that leads to high-quality fruit.
Much may be made of the chalky parallels between Champagne and many of England’s top vineyard sites, but Bolney shows off the merits of its free draining, heat retentive Upper Tunbridge Wells Sand consisting of sandy loam, siltstone and clay over sandstone bedrock on the Sussex South Downs.