Having worked on my family’s fruit farm in Kent, I went to university and studied Crop Science at the University of Nottingham. The course was very much focused on the arable and cereal growing side of things – not as interesting as viticulture and wine! I then went into horticultural research.
I worked for a horticultural research company running trials and experiments. I enjoyed that, but I wanted to apply what I learned at university and the research company. That’s when I found the role at Nyetimber.
It’s a lovely combination of the two, where I can use my science and farming backgrounds.
I’ve been asked this before, and it’s hard to define a typical day because it does change a lot throughout the year. From April through to harvest – in September/October time – I’m out in the field a lot. I visit all the vineyards (Nyetimber has 11 vineyards across Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire).
I essentially do data gathering from those sites. And also, agronomy: looking for pests and diseases in the vineyard. And a lot of crop walking! I go through all the vineyards, making sure the vines are healthy, collecting soil samples, or looking at the nutrition of the vine.
Currently (February), we’re doing pruning. One of the jobs we must do during this time is bud dissections: collecting canes and dissecting the buds when the vine is dormant. At this time, we can see the bunches for this year inside the bud. We can count how many we have and get an early indication of the amount of fruit we might get this year.
In summary, there’s a lot of collecting of canes and bringing those in and looking at them under a microscope.
That’s a tough one (to answer). Whenever we have a new vineyard – a new area we’re planting – that’s always exciting. When those vines are first going into the ground, you know we’ve done all the ground prep, soil sampling, and we’re creating a new vineyard: that’s pretty special. Especially when you first get to see those shoots emerging from the vines.
Another one – it’s a bit of a mad one to say – but I do like harvest. It’s a very busy and exciting time of year when a lot is going on, but there’s nothing more exciting than seeing all your effort come to fruition. It’s the beginning and the end for me: the planting of the vineyard and the harvesting of the fruit. That’s pretty special, too.
I do. Yes! I especially like the Tillington Single Vineyard. It’s hard not to enjoy it, and I certainly do. I think it doesn’t compare to other sparkling wines out there. I enjoy it very much.
The first time I tried Nyetimber was when I found out I had the job. And I remember we bought a bottle and had a barbecue with my family. It wasn’t particularly fancy food, but it was a very special moment. I think that’s a great thing. It’s perfect for those moments: it doesn’t have to have a grand ceremony, but it can be enjoyed with family and friends. That’s my Nyetimber moment, I suppose.