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Bolney Wine Estate to boost capacity by 120%

Sussex wine estate Bolney, acquired by Freixenet Copestick last year, talks exclusively to db about its major development plans, which include serving other Freixenet sparklings on site.

Following the announcement in January 2022 that Bolney Wine Estates had been snapped up by Freixenet Copestick, many in the trade have been waiting and watching to see which changes, if any, its new owners would make to the estate.

Having seen a 91% lift in its hospitality revenue during the last two years, the drinks business can reveal that Bolney plans to undergo significant expansion to capitalise on the trend.

Although its management team declined to say how much was being spent on the development, an improved hospitality and retail area, set to include two new tour rooms, a refreshed dining offering and a new lounge area, is expected to increase visitor capacity to the Sussex winery by 120%.

Masterminded by Blenheim Design, the new vision will create a “beautiful, premium space that is perfectly fitting for the Bolney brand”, with phase one expected to be completed by late summer 2023.

db asked Bolney’s general manager James Davis MW whether expansion was always part of the plan when Freixenet Copestick acquired the estate.

“As Freixenet Copestick got to know Bolney Wine Estate and the team, they quickly identified the great hospitality business that was already in place,” Davis said. “Given the strong growth, and talented hospitality team, we were able to gain the support of Freixenet Copestick and Henkell to develop this side of the business further.”

He explained that as part of the refreshed offering, new enomatic tasting machines will offer not just Bolney wines, but other sparklings from Henkell Freixenet’s wider portfolio, which will also be available to buy from Bolney’s gift shop.

“The enomatic machines offer a chance for us to serve wines that perhaps have extended age, are special to us, or that the winemaking team have made in very small volumes,” Davis told db.

“In addition, we have some amazing wines from around the world that are part of Freixenet and Henkell that give us a chance to showcase more of our wider range of wines alongside Bolney. These wines from around the world will complement Bolney’s own wines. For example, we will offer a selection of Pinot Noirs that include Bolney, Schloss Johannisberg, and Gloria Ferrer.”

Davis insists that “we will always lead with Bolney” but he believes it’s vital to show “how these quality English wines compare to other examples from around the world.”

“How great will it be to show a flight of high-quality sparkling wines, including those from Gratien in Champagne, Seguras Viudas in Spain, and Gloria Ferrer in California, produced in similar ways to show the differences and similarities in terms of style?” he asked.

“The inspiration for this came when I visited the Yeatman Hotel in Porto, part of Taylor’s Port, which was confident enough to sell its direct competitor Graham’s in its restaurant!”

The premium wines from Freixenet will “complement the Bolney range”, says Davis, and will sit alongside food and accessory items from Bolney and other local suppliers.

Bolney, which toasted the granting of PDO status for Sussex sparkling wine in June 2022, celebrated record figures and a 16% increase in turnover in 2022.

“It is an extremely exciting time for English wine with growth in both sales and tourism across the board, so we knew that now was the right time to invest in Bolney and its beautiful estate,” said Davis.

“The changes we’re making are going to significantly increase our visitor capacity and greatly enhance their experience when here, so we cannot wait to welcome our loyal and new visitors when phase one completes.”

Bolney Wine Estate will remain open to visitors throughout the work.

In April this year, Sam Linter stepped down as chairperson of Bolney following the winery’s acquisition, saying she had “successfully guided Bolney Wine Estate in becoming part of Freixenet Copestick and the Henkell Freixenet Group” .

The purchase of Bolney has helped to solidify Henkell Freixenet’s position as the world’s leading sparkling wine producer, with db reporting earlier this month that the group had hit a record €1.1 billion revenue in 2022.

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