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Bolney Wine Estate on opening the door to 2017

Published:  13 December, 2016

When Bolney Wine Estate was started in 1972 by owners Janet and Rodney Pratt, it was one of only six commercial vineyards in the country.

When Bolney Wine Estate was started in 1972 by owners Janet and Rodney Pratt, it was one of only six commercial vineyards in the country.

Now the Sussex winery is about to enter their 45th year, at a time when English wine is generating peak levels of excitement.

Harpers caught up with them to see what the New Year will bring for one of England's oldest vineyards.

The team is hoping that 2017 will be the year that Bolney goes global, with projections forecasting that exports will rise from 5% in 2016 to 25% by 2021.

While this year saw Bolney send its first exports to the USA, in 2017 their still and traditional medthod sparkling wines will be heading to Japan as they look to develop in Asian markets.

As the threat of Brexit looms, Sam Linter, winemaker, MD and daughter of Janet and Rodney Pratt, says the effect on currency is a double-edged sword for her business.

"The weaker pound makes the export prices become more attractive. Unfortunately, we also have to buy goods in from Europe so they have now become more expensive.

"Ideally we need the government to move on this as swiftly as possible and tell us all much more, so we can adapt and plan when we know more what to plan for."

In place of political and economic uncertainty, plans are being made in other areas.

The winery has recently fitted a new café and enhanced its tourist facilities on home soil near Crawley to increase visitor numbers from around 20,000 to 45,000 per year.

The team is also pushing wine sales across the UK with a greater national distribution through Bibendum.

During the festive season, they are also pushing membership to their private members club - the Cellar Door Society.

Membership includes discounts on purchases, a personal wine advisor and the opportunity to sponsoring a vine, by registering up to 20 vines per person.

As for their plans for 2017, Linter added: "This is a pivotal moment in our 44 year history. We are one of the oldest vineyards, with three generations now working in our family business, which brings huge experience and continuity.

"In 2017 we will carry on what we have all being doing to date - making high quality and award winning wines, maintain consistency on this and on supply. We will keep evolving."