Wait a moment. UK vintners? Certainly we’ve all heard of the glories of vineyards in certain areas of France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. But when recalling revered vintages of yore, we’re hard pressed to visualize one with a British label. But while you’re not going to confuse Surrey with the Bordeaux region or Napa Valley just yet, 21st century viti-culture in southeastern England has produced impressive results. The United Kingdom has not only acquired a very nice reputation for quality white wines, it’s winning international awards for them as well.
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And as production of national award winning wines continues and as vineyards become not just farms but tourist attractions, a question arises. How are Britons going to help this relatively new and increasingly lucrative industry to survive? In more established wine making regions apprenticeships, some part of a tradition many hundreds of years old, pass on secrets and techniques to future generations of winemakers. Not to be left behind, some of the United Kingdom’s vineyards have joined forces with the country’s oldest wine merchant conglomerate to make this a British tradition, too.
In May of 2016, the Hattingley Valley Wine Company announced that it was partnering with the Worshipful Company Of Vintners (est. 1264, motto- “Wine cheers the spirit”) to establish a winemaking apprenticeship. This programme was targeted at young people interested in learning this ancient skill with the hope that it would help to sustain national wine production for generations to come.
Not to appear age-centric, this offer was made to “mature” persons as well, with the understanding that desks and meetings would have to be exchanged for presses and vats. The offered apprenticeship was certainly not for hobbyists, as it included an ambitious programme of college study, agricultural work, and hands-on training. The position was filled shortly after the announcement by a young woman who is now engrossed in learning the alchemy behind turning the lowly grape into sparkling wine.
Persons wanting to learn more about joining this profession themselves, or seeking information on how to become or work with wine merchants might do well to go to ukvintners.wordpress.com. This site exists as a resource and news site for professional and amateur vintners alike, as well as for those with simply a passion for national and international wines. Posts cover topics on everything from tracking rare vintages to finding a reliable shipper of California Rieslings to purchasing temperature monitors for collections. And with the guidance of groups like this, it won’t be too much longer before people are downright blasé at the mention of UK vintners.