With just over 450 vineyards in England and the industry steadily growing, winemakers are quite the rarity. We are frequently quizzing our winemaker, David about all things wine, vine, cork and stalk; always asking 'what does this mean?' and 'what would happen if?', but what about his journey into winemaking - how he got into it, where his passion comes from and what his favourite parts are.
We managed to steal him away from the vines to ask a few questions, here's what we discovered -
(Do you have a question you'd like to ask David? Comment below)
1. What is one of the hardest things about winemaking, day in and day out?
People probably do not realise the amount of time that is spent just cleaning. Whether it be one tank before its used, a pump, a barrel, hoses, bottle filler the list goes on.... its not really that hard, but its just not the most interesting part of the job.
2. If you weren't a winemaker, what do you think you would be?
Something Horticulture related I imagine. I still enjoy it, It is what I started with and what lead me in to Viticulture and Wine.
3. Do you have a favourite vineyard, besides Knightor of course?
No chance! But so many vineyard areas impress me, mostly for their non mechanised approach and challenging sites, and also just for the wine. Standouts I find Mosel, Rheingau [Germany], Vaud, Valais [Switzerland], Madeira, Douro [Portugal]. I love some of the wines from these areas, but when you add in to the it the people behind the tough work thats mostly by hand it makes the end result all the more impressive and good value.
4. What got you into the winemaking business?
I was dragged around Europe on holidays as a child visiting lots of vineyards and wineries in the process. My Sister and I found the wineries and vineyards so dull and boring, Chateau, vine, bottle, repeated again and again mostly looked the same as a child.
This eventually all changed one year when offered a sample or two of wine that is! They all tasted so different, and most were quite yummy too! It was amazing. One thing lead to another, a few years later, and a good idea followed.
As a 13 or 14 year old I already had an allotment where I spent all my spare time growing all sorts of fruit, vegetables, flowers and random seeds I had collected. After taking a cutting or two off a vine this soon spread to become well over 60 grapevines and over 100kg of grapes each year! Most other plants were soon forgotten about! I needed to try and make the tasty drink found on holidays!
A few years after whilst at school I was then fortunate enough to be offered part time work at nearby Nutbourne Vineyards, tending their vines, I loved it....
5. What is your favourite season for winemaking?
When everything is pressed and safely in tank fermenting just after harvest. The smell of happy ferments when you walk in to the winery first thing in the morning is so perfumed, unforgetable. Then blending in spring usually isnt too bad either!
6. What are some of the misconceptions/phrases you hear from people regarding wine that are simply not true (or drive you crazy)?
Not much makes me that irritated. Just minor gripes, for example people not tasting with a very open mind, or making broad sweeping statements. Then also the 'wine snobbery' at times. Its just a drink. A very interesting one though!
7. If you were a wine, what would you be?
The corked bottle!? I'm no Petrus or Lafite.