Ian Edwards and Rebecca Hansford are both former actuaries who spent a major portion of their professional careers working in the pensions industry. When their firm merged with a competitor in 2002 they decided it was an opportunity to look at alternative careers and lifestyles. This eventually led them to purchasing the Furleigh Estate in West Dorset in 2004, which at one point had been owned and operated by Rebecca's father as a dairy farm. The new owners took the view that some of the land would be suitable for grape-growing so established a winemaking venture. Funding for the Furleigh Estate wine project has come in part from the EU Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Currently Ian (by now a Plumpton graduate) is the winemaker while Rebecca runs the office administration.
The vineyard was planted in 2005/2006 with 22,000 vines on an area covering ca. 7 ha. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier make up ca. 70% of the plantings and are used to make sparkling wines. Bacchus and Rondo make up the remainder of the vineyard and these grapes are used for still wines.
The winery was constructed in 2007 and is fitted out with a pneumatic press, stainless steel tanks, riddling equipment and oak barrels.
Furleigh Estate wines have been regularly successful at competitions. Their most notable success to date has been winning the English Wine Trophy at the 2013 International Wine Challenge for their 2009 Classic Cuvée.
Furleigh Estate winemaking facilities are also being used to produce wines from nearby Bride Valley Vineyard.
(Images © Furleigh Estate)