Sussex wines are the perfect accompaniment for your festive celebrations, writes Nick Mosley. He talks to the team at Bolney Wine Estate in West Sussex about their Christmas offering.
Bolney Wine Estate is one of England’s longest established vineyards and wineries, with the first grapes planted back in 1972. The gently rolling hills of the estate are home to 36 acres of vines including varietals that thrive in the marginal climate of Sussex: Würzer, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Reichensteiner, Pinot Noir, Rondo and Dornfelder.
Bolney has a proud heritage of producing internationally acclaimed still and sparkling wines, and is one of the few English wineries to make award-winning red wines. In recent years, their passion for the environment as custodians of some of the most beautiful landscape in the South Downs has led the team at Bolney to put sustainability at the very heart of the business. Currently 50% of the electricity requirement at their Foxhole site is generated by solar power.
The estate has also always been at the fore of wine tourism in Sussex, with their on-site shop featuring their own wines alongside food and drink from local farmers and producers. Tours and tastings are available across the week, and visitors are welcome to wander amongst the vines and enjoy picnics.
The stunning Eighteen Acre Café opened a couple of years ago with a food offering packed with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, accompanied by panoramic views of the vineyard. This December, diners can look forward to a three course Christmas menu – including turkey with all the trimmings – for £40 or choose a la carte from an impressive selection of dishes perfectly paired with Bolney wine flights priced at just £12.50 for three wines.
“Our winter menu is all about bringing people together for the festive season”, said chef Jack Marsh. “Our small plates and sharing platters are inspired by foraging opportunities on our doorstep, such as wild mushrooms and winter berries, to create an array of winter dishes with a Bolney touch. Each dish is created to accentuate the tasting notes of our award-winning English wines.”
Bolney have also got into the Christmas spirit with their Festive Fridays featuring mulled wines and seasonal small plates. Alongside the great wine and food, guests can also look forward to live music. Advance tickets are £35 and included mulled wine on arrival, amuse bouche, a choice of three seasonal small plates and a glass of Lychgate wine.
Until Monday 20 December, Bolney are offering via their website a wide range of hampers, wine boxes and even cocktail kits featuring their own gin and vermouth for home delivery. Whether a gift for friends or family – or an addition to your festive table – its a perfect way to put Sussex at the heart of your celebrations. Cases of wine are also currently discounted 15% when you order online. Horsham shoppers can also drop by Bolney’s pop-up shop in Swan Walk Shopping Centre until Sunday 19 December.
Head winemaker Sam Linter says she’ll definitely be enjoying the wines she so lovingly produces.
“Our family tradition is to pop open a bottle of Bolney Cuvée Noir with our Christmas pudding. It’s our unique red sparkling wine made using the traditional method with rich, fruity flavours. But if you’re not a lover of Christmas pudding, then you can equally enjoy it with a Sussex cheeseboard.”
Bolney Wine Estate, Foxhole Lane, Bolney, Haywards Heath RH17 5NB, www.bolneywineestate.com