Making wine in Sussex

Bolney vines

The Bolney Estate is one of Bibendum’s newest agencies. As it’s only a short trip down the M23, we jumped at the chance to meet Head Winemaker and MD, Sam Linter.

Sam Linter

Have you always wanted to be a winemaker?

Not at first; when I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I ended up doing an apprenticeship. It was when I had my daughter Charlotte in 1991 that I started to become interested in wine. So I started doing some odd days in the winery, got very interested (if it grabs you, winemaking becomes almost an all-consuming passion) and went to Plumpton College to study winemaking.

What’s your favourite grape to work with?

Pinot Noir. I love its versatility.

Do you age your wines? How long for and in what?

We age the Pinot Noir in French oak barrels but only for 2-3 months. The Pinot Gris doesn’t see any oak, but both wines then get some bottle ageing, preferably 6 months before we release them, although that is rarely possible due to demand.

What food would you eat with the Bolney Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris?

Pinot Gris - It’s excellent with most fish dishes such as sushi and shellfish, as well as some more delicate Asian dishes.

Pinot Noir - Goes extremely well with chicken, rabbit, game birds, pork and duck.

If you could only drink wine from one region, which would it be?

England, of course! Closely followed by the Alsace and New Zealand.

The Bolney Estate has the local post office on its grounds and sponsors a local cricket team. How important is supporting the local community to you?

Very important, I think vineyards are and should be part of the community. Wine should be drunk where it is produced. We rely on local people for staffing and also buying our wines. It is very much a two way thing for us. We have footpaths running though our vineyards too and love to engage where we can. We have so much to share and I think it is a great shame when locals don’t know what we are doing. We are proud to be in Bolney and want Bolney people to be proud to have Bolney Wine Estate in their village!

Where do you see Bolney in the next 2 years?

Growing!  We have such a demand for our wines. We have planted more vines, and are encouraging local farmers to plant for us too. We will be making more lovely wines, and in the next five years I intend to double our production. We are beginning to export more wines now too, which gives the rest of the world a chance to experience English wine.

For our customers, English wine can still be a bit of a challenge to sell. What 3 reasons would you give to convince consumers to try Bolney?

1. Well we have consistently won international awards now for several years.
2. Our wines are hand-made, we hand pick our grapes, and when the grapes come into the winery we hand sort them and only let the best grapes go into our wine.  We follow the wines through every step, keeping a close eye on every tank.  We are not a big commercial producer like most international wineries where wine is made in factory-like conditions using computers. If we are not proud and happy with the quality of the wines we have made, we don’t bottle them.  You will only ever see our best in bottle.
3. They are made in the UK!  So many areas of agriculture are not working now, but viticulture and winemaking is a growing industry.  English wine producers are making a successful product, let’s get behind them and support them.

Read more about the Bolney Estate


5th September 2014

Company No. 2550982 | 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR | Call: 0845 263 6924 | AWRS Number: XVAW00000101595

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