Sam Linter

MD & HeaD winemaker, Bolney Wine Estate

Sam is the Managing Director and Head Winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate. Her parents, Janet and Rodney Pratt, founded the vineyard in 1972, making the estate one of the first vineyards in England. Sam spent her childhood living on the vineyard and took over the family business in 1990 at 22.

There have been plenty of challenges over the years including wine tax, the weather and attitudes towards English wine. However with Sam’s passion, enthusiasm, leadership and the support of the English wine community, the vineyard continues to grow and has created a portfolio of ten award-winning wines. Today, over 120,000 bottles of wine are produced each year for customers across the UK and the rest of the world.
Grape expectations: the challenges of creating award-winning English wine

Discover what Sam Linter, MD and head winemaker at Bolney Estate, told Dots about embracing the challenges of creating a business in the growing English wine industry.

In 1972 Bolney Estate was born, a family business that grew with the English wine industry. From humble beginnings, Bolney has grown into an award-winning wine-maker, championing English red wine. To get there, the company had to embrace change – change in all things, at an organisational level.

“We change and we challenge”
When Bolney Estate was started by Sam’s parents, there was no recent history of growing vines or growing good quality grapes in England. Good wine was not made in those days.

Her parents came up with the idea of planting vineyard – they had the dream, ambition and optimism. When they started, no one wanted to buy English wine – but there was a chink of light in the early years when her parents won an award in 1976.

Sam took over the business 20 years ago – when the English wine industry was still young. And due to a lack of industry knowledge, everyone was hugely collaborative – from marketing to sharing kits.

“We were prepared to work harder to give ourselves a USP”
People in the wine trade said they couldn’t make good wine, but Sam told the Dots audience that this only spurred her on. Bolney needed a USP and English red wine was it – something no one in country had done before. So she went around the world where good pinots were being made and trialled different ways of making the wine.

“If we hadn’t embraced change Bolney would not be in existence”
There are now new wine-making techniques resulting in fresher and fruitier wine. Australia is the number one seller into the UK and English winemakers still lag behind, making less than 2% of the wine drunk in this country. With the odds against them, it took passion, 24/7 work, knock backs and mistakes to create the success Bolney has experienced.

And Sam finished by re-affirming that Bolney will keep embracing change, evolving what they do and making sure they don’t stand still.