English Wine Pioneer Rodney Pratt of Bolney Wine Estate: 1942-2021

It is with great sadness to announce that Rodney Pratt, co-founder of Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex, passed away on Saturday 12th June 2021.

Rodney and his wife Janet were true pioneers of the industry, founding Bolney Wine Estate back in 1972 – almost 50 years ago – planting what was then one of the earlier commercial vineyards in the UK.

Rodney was of the studious type when he was younger and enjoyed learning new things. When he was studying Chemistry and Engineering he went on a placement at Gutenberg University, in Mainz, Germany, and it was whilst he was studying that another interest began.  He spent most of his six months there in the vineyards of Louis Guntrum and from there learned about the difference between the everyday wines and good German wines.

Rodney and Janet Pratt with their first award-winning wine

It was from this discovery (and Janet’s love of the land) that Rodney and Janet first realised their dream. That passion and faith sparked off a journey that has now spanned three generations of the family.

Their daughter Sam caught the wine bug from her parents in the nineties and with their support and that of her brother Mark took the vineyard to the next level. Today, Bolney Wine Estate is an established and well-known brand that continues to win awards and hearts both in the UK and on the international stage. Sam is now Managing Director and Head Winemaker of the ever-expanding business that includes contract winemaking, and a thriving wine tourism and retail operation. The family business is now joined by Sam’s daughter, Charlotte.  Rodney carried on in his later role as company president and was proud of his daughter and of all the staff at Bolney that worked so hard to continue what he saw as his and Janet’s legacy. The family was devastated to lose Janet in 2005 and wished alongside Rodney she could have seen how Bolney continued to grow over the ensuing decades.

In a statement from the wine estate and all the team, Sam added: “He will be sorely missed by all and we are now taking the time to reflect on both our founders and the amazing risk they took in creating a business that has given so many people so much joy.”

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