The Story Begins

The story of Buckfast Tonic Wine begins back in 1897 when the nephew of a French monk visited Buckfast Abbey in Devon and brought with him a recipe for a Tonic Wine. And so began the art and tradition of winemaking by the Monks at Buckfast Abbey.


A new life at the Abbey

On 14 September 1906 Anscar Vonier was elected Abbot of Buckfast Abbey. He brought a young and ambitious spirit to the community and announced his first project would be to rebuild the Abbey. After much searching the monks eventually discovered the foundations to the original Mediaeval Abbey and so they set about the huge task of restoration.


The Start of our Partnership

In the early 1920s the monks were working hard at trying to sell their Tonic Wine. At this time however their recipe was more medicinal, and the severe licensing laws introduced after the war made it impossible for the monks to obtain a licence.


A Chance Encounter

J Chandler and Co Ltd was a London based wine merchant which Mr Robert Joyce acquired in the early 1920’s. It was during a holiday to the West Country that Robert Joyce and his daughter Gertrude Joyce visited Buckfast Abbey. The monks were selling off the last of the tonic wine stock; Robert Joyce asked why they wouldn’t be selling it anymore. Once he was told about the problem of obtaining a licence, he suggested that J Chandler and Co Ltd could help to sell it for them.

A partnership was developed between the Abbey and J Chandler & Co Ltd and in May 1927 J Chandler & Co (Buckfast) was duly incorporated with its registered offices in Parliament Street, Westminster, London.


The Rebuilding of Buckfast Abbey

The Abbey was rebuilt solely by the monks who lived and worked there. The rebuilding of the Abbey was eventually completed in 1938. Sadly, just before the last pinnacle stone was set Abbot Anscar Vonier fell ill and passed away.


A Wartime Effort

In the summer of 1939 preparations were being made in the Westminster area in the event of war. Sandbags and barricades were in evidence and the Government had requested the Company’s cellar space for use as air-raid shelters for the Government offices.


A New Premises

The company obliged with the government’s request and moved to larger premises at Abbey House, Peterborough Road, London. Bottling and distribution of Buckfast Tonic Wine continued here and grew for the next 60 years.


J. Chandler Golden Jubilee

Celebrations to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of J Chandler & Co (Buckfast) Ltd took place at Buckfast Abbey hosted by the monks.


100 Years of Buckfast Tonic Wine

Buckfast Tonic Wine celebrates 100 years since the introduction at the Abbey of the now famous and much-loved tonic wine. It’s unique character stemming from the secret recipe guarded by the monks and passed down over the decades.


From Fulham to Andover

With the continued success and popularity of Buckfast Tonic Wine, the company needed to relocate to significantly larger premises and after much searching acquired a site in Hampshire.

Over the next few years, a modern, state of the art bottling line, storage and distribution warehouse was built along with new offices. In 2000 the building project was complete and the bottling line up and running with daily tankers of Buckfast Tonic Wine continuing to be received from Buckfast Abbey.


Buckfast Abbey Millenium

Having had records of a monastic community existing at Buckfastleigh since 1018, Buckfast Abbey celebrates its Millennium – quite a historical achievement.


Looking to the future

J Chandler & Co (Buckfast) Ltd is looking forward to celebrating another historic milestone by commemorating its Centenary year in 2027.  Join us in celebrating the passion, the craftsmanship and the remarkable versatility as we continue the enduring legacy that is Buckfast Tonic Wine.