Bolney’s winery gets royal opening after ‘very good’ harvest
Sussex-based Bolney’s new winery has received the royal seal of approval after a visit from the Duchess of Cornwall, as managing director Sam Linter reflects on a “very good year” despite the wet weather during harvest.
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall travelled to Bolney this week to officially open the vineyard’s new state-of-the-art winery, which was unveiled in September.
The expanded winery will allow Bolney to increase its production capacity by 170%, producing 300,000 bottles of still and sparkling wines by 2022.
During her visit, the Duchess of Cornwall was taken on a tour of the winery and 104-acre estate by managing director and head winemaker, Sam Linter. The winery was part financed by a grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Picking at the estate finished on Tuesday (15 October), with Linter stating that this year “will be one of the industry’s better years in terms of quality, but lower in quantity to last year”.
Last year, however, was a record year for English and Welsh wine, with a total of 13.2 million bottles produced. 2018 beat the previous record year (6.3 million bottles in 2014) by 6.9 million bottles.
Speaking to the drinks business about the wet weather during this year’s harvest, which caused Kent-based producer Chapel Down to stop picking on a couple of occasions, Linter said: “Some wet periods meant a bit of disease pressure, but it was all handled well with the vineyard management and a very good vineyard team.
“It has been a very good year. We have seen small berries in the grape bunches, which have increased concentration and potential alcohol levels.
“With the sunshine we had through the summer, warm temperatures too, there was a very good ripeness this year.”
Linter added that the extra capacity at the new winery has helped the team improve efficiency.
“Processing the fruit more quickly and safely has been a real benefit,” she said. “This is because we have a delivery and press pad around the back of the winery. We now have a brand new press, double the size of our previous one, and also a lot more stainless steel tanks.”
Bolney announced a merger with nearby 67-acre vineyard Pookchurch in January this year.