Strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring. England’s summer wine seems really made from all these things. So far, 2015 has been great for the beverage. After last year’s long, warm spring and kind summer, which brought high-quality grapes in large volumes, English wines picked up an impressive 14 gold medals in the 2015 International Wine Challenge. Then, for the first time in the tennis tournament’s 138-year history, English wine was served at Wimbledon this summer. The All England Club decided to stock up on home-grown wine for VIPs in corporate areas and bought 400 bottles of a white Pinot Gris 2014, from the Bolney estate in East Sussex. The organisers said the dry white wine, which has a fragrant aroma of rose, jasmine and pears, was a perfect match for the traditional refreshment of strawberries and cream that are as much part of the tournament as the tennis whites and green courts.
And now, the wine takes on a further upward trajectory, with British Airways choosing the Bolney Estate wine to appear on its in-flight menu. The Pinot Gris bottles will be flying to and fro across the Atlantic throughout August, available to customers travelling on First Class between the UK and the US. The airline has previously served English sparkling wine but this is the first time that a still English wine has been picked to do cabin service.
For those who like to know the story behind their drink, Bolney was one of the early pioneers of Sussex wine when it started out in 1972. It was known as Bookers Vineyard then, and had three acres of vines. But it has grown to 39 acres since and become a specialist red wine producer—a rarity in England where most wineries focus on sparkling wine. But Bolney clearly knows what it’s doing. Its first serve at Wimbledon was a smash hit.