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Big plans for Bolney as Wine GB welcomes acquisition

Freixenet Copestick has revealed a host of plans for its newly-acquired English winery, Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex, as it embarks on its first British wine venture.

With the ink barely dry on the deal, which was signed late last Friday (14 January), Freixenet Copestick MD Robin Copestick is not short of ideas when it comes to improving the already successful English winery.

Describing Bolney as ‘the perfect match’ for Freixenet Copestick, he said: ‘When we arrived at Bolney in early September, with its venue, restaurant, potential for a shop and close proximity to London, I thought this is perfect. It just felt right from day one.

‘We were quite extensive in our search having looked at at least a handful of contenders — we have had so many stops starts with other wineries — it’s been a bit of a labour of love.’

In terms of plans going forward, Copestick points to growth via the land available around the estate.

‘It’s something we are looking at obviously, but it’s only really day one of owning the winery,’ he told Decanter. ‘But we have various ideas on how to expand and one of those could well be buying land under vine already, or maybe even buying land where we plant.

‘It’s it’s a project that we will look at over the next 12 months. Our idea is to get our feet under the table; get working with Sam Linter (daughter of founders Janet and Rodney Pratt who now runs the winery) and her team,’ Copestick said.

He added: ‘Once we’re there and once we have a clearer picture we can we can work out whether we concentrate on on making the wines more premium on whether we we go for more quantity.’

Away from production, Copestick highlights tourism and hospitality as areas ripe for development at the Bolney site.

‘The site looks great but there’s a lot more that we can do there. Over the next few years I’d like to develop a proper shop. I’d like to develop around the vineyard — there are lots of areas that you could develop into very scenic eating and drinking sites.

‘For the restaurant itself, we are looking at how to expand the food offering. There’s a lot of potential in the top floor of that building,’ he said.

Recognising the potential for the English wine industry created by the acquisition, Wine GB has been quick to welcome the news.

The move, it said, represented a ‘key milestone’ for the wine industry in the UK.

‘In many ways it signals an increasing maturity in our industry in that English still and sparkling wine should be regarded as an attractive investment opportunity by such a leading global wine producer,’ said CEO Simon Thorpe MW.

He added: ‘The acquisition should help to build on the progress made by English and Welsh wineries in establishing a significant consumer franchise both in this country and in certain export markets. This is an exciting development for the industry.’

The acquisition has, according to Copestick also been welcomed by other English wineries: ‘All the wineries that I’ve spoken to, and that is quite a few, think it’s very positive for a company like like ours to get involved.

‘I understand when people say there’s more consolidation and big companies are taking over but I genuinely think it’s a positive thing for the industry because it will bring so much professionalism and expertise to the market and raise its profile.

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