1. Julia Stafford, The Wine Pantry
Nomination: JULIA IS THE winner of a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas award for August 2011. Her establishment, The Wine Pantry, is the first and only wine merchant to sell exclusively English wine. With the zeal of the recent convert, Julia’s ambitions knew no bounds and as the year closed a second shop was opened. Her business plan has introduced off-sale English wine to the London consumer in what is arguably the hardest and most competitive wine market on the planet.
ukvine says: Julia’s bubbly yet no-nonsense character has led her to launch not one but two retail business in the teeth of the worst financial conditions since the Great Depression. Her ambitions to bring English wine to the London consumer is to be applauded. She is educating the consumer in the best of English wine and eatables and generating real demand for produce of English vineyards.
2. The Red Lion Hotel in Clovelly
Nomination: THE RED LION launched its ‘Devon’ wine list in March of 2012, and now has 18 still Devon wines and two sparkling wines from six different vineyards from around the county. Total sales for this period have now reached the total of 380 assorted bottles. And they say you can’t sell English wines in hotels!
Nominated by: Nigel Connor, F & B controller, Clovelly Estate Co Ltd
ukvine says: The work of Nigel in selling local wine to locals and tourists is powering county vineyards and promoting the industry generally.
3. John Worontschak, winemaker
Nomination: OVER THE LAST 24 years John has been at the forefront of raising the profile, quality and standard of English wines. He has amassed and impressive list of awards. One notable UK journalist once wrote “he is without doubt one of the most experienced and arguably the most successful winemaker in the UK”. John’s current roles include operations director at Denbies and director of Litmus Wines. Whilst fulfilling these roles, John has successfully encouraged two major multiples to list four English wines; he produces his own high-end English table wines; he offers his winemaking and disgorging expertise to UK growers/producers; and he educates on and distributes biotech products.
Nominated by: Mike Florence, Litmus wines
ukvine says: John represents that part of the supply chain that creates English wine from English grapes. His professional input has raised standards in the sector for almost a quarter century.
4. Mike Paul, educator
Nomination: BASED ON A 30-year career in wine, Paul is currently a wine consultant working in addition to his Wine Skills role. He also presents on business and marketing through the WSET and writes the occasional column for the trade press and works on ad hoc projects across the industry.
Nominated by: Julia Stafford, The Wine Pantry, London
ukvine says: Setting the standards for others has been Paul’s role for three decades in the wider wine industry. The next generation can learn from his experience well into the 21st century.
5. Stephen Skelton, consultant
Nomination: STEPHEN SKELTON HAS has been involved with growing vines and making wine since 1975. Having planted the vines that would become Chapel Down, from 1988 to 1991 he was also winemaker and general manager at Lamberhurst Vineyards, at that time the largest winery in the UK. He now works as a consultant to vineyards and wineries in the UK and is currently setting up vineyards for the production of sparkling wine.
ukvine says: Truly the ‘go to’ man for English wine. Granted an honorary doctorate for his work in supporting and developing English wine, Stephen is an walking encyclopedia of how to grow grapes and make wine on this island.
6. Olly Smith, communicator
Nomination: THERE WAS LITTLE surprise when Olly was awarded the ‘Communicator of the Year’ position by The United Kingdom Vineyard Association Communicator of the Year at the English and Welsh Wine of the Year Competition 2012. A well-known Sussex resident, he will become the face of the industry in its communications with the media and consumer.
ukvine says: We applaud Olly’s appointment and look forward to working with him as he works to communicate the great story of UK wine.
7. Plumpton College
Nomination: IF WINE PRODUCTION in the UK has a launch pad, then this Sussex College is it. Staff at the college are as important to the future of the industry as Cape Kennedy was to the Apollo landings. No-one now seems to take off in the sector without Plumpton on their CV.
ukvine says: The college is now alma mater to many bottles of English and Welsh wine and has entered the DNA of the modern industry as the hot house of winemaking techniques and skills.
8. Camel Valley
Nomination: OUR PINOT NOIR rose sparkling is in a style that I believe cannot be recreated in any other climate. We make it by crushing the grapes which is not possible in Champagne. It has won best rose sparkling in the world three times in two separate competitions. The current vintage has a gold medal in decanter and came first in the judgment at Parsees green tasting – that is all UK sparkling wines currently on the market. It is only pink because of the process not because we choose to make a pink wine to satisfy some sort of category demand. And the most important thing is all our customers love it. It is approachable on all levels from Champagne expert (Tom Stevenson for one) to someone who has never had the chance to drink a sparkling wine before. You don’t need to know anything to know it is lovely to drink. This vintage (2012) has been one of the best for our Pinot noir rose sparkling when other producers chose not to pick. It comes up every vintage as one of our best.
Nominated by: Sam Lindo
ukvine says: One of the UK’s most high profile vineyards, as well as one of the most newsworthy father and son businesses in the industry, Camel Valley is flying the flag here and abroad while retaining a distinctive Cornish presence in the marketplace.
9. Ian Edwards, Furleigh Estate
Nomination: HIS PASSION AND skill in creating wonderful wines that have won many awards, including the first gold won by a UK vineyard in the international “Effervescents du Monde” and wines that made him UK Winemaker 2012. Ian and the Furleigh Estate actively promote the excellence of English wines to the media, trade and consumer on an on-going basis with initiatives such as their Christmas Anglo-French Wine challenge and wines like Ian’s are transforming the image of English and Welsh wines in the UK and abroad.
Nominated by: Lindsay Jones, MW Marketing West Ltd
ukvine says: The most nominated individual on our list, Ian’s success in winning awards and pushing forward the image of the domestic industry is widely acknowledged by his peers as well as flying the flag for sparkling wine outside the South-East.
10. Frazer Thompson, CEO
Nomination: CEO OF CHAPEL Down wines, England’s leading producer based at Tenterden, Kent, as well as Plusmarkets CEO of the Year 2008, Frazer is a rugby, football and general sports bore, a competent cook, an ever-so-slightly obsessive foodie and I read lots of books, particularly American novels. Under Frazer, Chapel Down is becoming as well known as a brewer as a wine maker.
ukvine says: As head of a AIM-listed operation, Frazer represents the way forward for the industry, having secured four rounds of external fund-raising and floated on Plusmarkets.
11. Christian Holthausen, Nyetimber & 12. Cherie Spriggs, Nyetimber
Nomination: THE DYNAMIC DUO of Cherie Spriggs and Christian Holthausen from Nyetimber: she’s one of the most talented sparkling winemakers in the world and he’s the hot shot communications guy who arrived from Champagne last September. Neither of them is even 40 years old yet Cherie’s commitment to producing wines of a Grande Marque standard and Christian’s flair for communication makes Nyetimber the English producer to watch in 2013. Owner Eric Heerema certainly knows how to build a good team.
Nominated by: Julie Carolan, Story PR
ukvine says: The only duo nominated for the list, the two ‘C’s are set to shake up the English sparkling wine industry as only those who have yet to reach the Big Four-Oh can
13. Art Tukker, winemaker and owner, Tinwood Estate, West Sussex
Nomination: ART’S FAMILY FARM farm includes approx 60-80 acres of vineyards planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Under a joint venture with nearby award-winning Ridgeview, Art supplies approx four-fifths of the grapes that go into making Ridgeview’s world-class range of wines. Whatever is left is available for Art’s own single estate sparkling wine, vinified at the Ridgeview winery. It is perhaps the most remarkable yet barely known English sparkling wine around. It can indubitably lay claim to being the most stylish. Aside from a tiny allocation to Red Squirrel Wine, Tinwood Estate is only marketed to the upper end of the on-trade. This is a supremely talented young grower not only producing the raw material for one of England’s most impressive vinous exports, but making a ‘sleeper hit’ of genuine distinction. At the first Haslemere WineFest it wowed attendees and was consistently preferred to the likes of Nyetimber, Meonhill, Bolney and Jenkyn Place.
Nominated by: Nik Darlington, managing director, Red Squirrel Wine
ukvine says: Youth will out and Art will be setting the agenda for many years to come. One to watch.
14. Nick Hall, Herbert Hall Wines
Nomination: I AM SURE he is too modest to nominate himself, but am convinced his contribution should be recognised. Herbert Hall Wines has recently been a key force in gaining acceptance of English sparkling Wine as a premium product among leading opinion-formers. Elegant design, branding and fine, fruit-driven wine embodies English quality and style. I’m not alone in thinking this: Highlighted by GQ Magazine for making English Wine ‘chic’ and described by Matthew Jukes as “the finest debut English Sparkling Wine I have ever tasted”, Herbert Hall has won over top restaurants including Bibendum, Le Caprice, Le Gavroche, Scott’s, OXO and J. Sheekey to the values of English Sparkling Wine. Listed by Harvey Nichols and one of only three English sparklers at Harrods, it alone was picked for the House of Commons ‘Best of British’ Jubilee and Olympic celebrations. Nick is now also producing organic wine for HRH Prince of Wales’s ‘Highgrove’ brand.
Nominated by: Brendan Martin
ukvine says: Arriving on the English sparkling wine scene, Nick has taken English wine into some of the chicest settings and most influential style magazines.
15. Bolney Wine Estate
Nomination: I THINK THEY just do everything well. Their wine is fabulous, they’re professional, very friendly and they’re all about adding value where they can. The image they project via social networking and through the media is polished. In my opinion they set the bar for other vineyards and wineries to work towards. They are proving that English wine is not just a “cottage industry”.
Nominated by: Mark Haddock, Great English Wines, Hungerford, Berkshire
ukvine says: Bolney is assuming the profile and coverage of successful foreign vineyards both in the trade and consumer press. Its image is truly professional and high profile.
16. Mark Driver, Rathfinny Estate
Nomination: NO ONE HAS has lifted the profile of English wine more in the last 12 months; his whole philosophy is to lift the profile of the industry as a whole.
Nominated by: Cameron Roucher, vineyard manager, Rathfinny Estate
ukvine says: Arriving on the English wine scene like a tornado from the City, Mark has set the agenda for future developments in English sparkling wine over the rest of the decade.
17. Chris Scott, ThirtyFifty
Nomination: CHRIS HAS RECORDED interviews with many key figures from the UK wine industry – see link below for a selection of shows – and takes a keen interest in English wines and the industry as a whole. His podcasts keep listeners up to date with what’s happening in the UK wine scene as well as with the English wine growers. As a business ThirtyFifty also promotes English wines through featuring producers such as Chapel Down, Ridgeview and Camel Valley in our tastings.
Nominated by: Jane Scott, ThirtyFifty
ukvine says: Chris is taking English wine to new digital platforms by asking the questions that have to be asked. He is one of the first to serve English wine in podcasts instead of wine glasses.
18. Julia Trustram Eve, English Wine Producers
Nomination: IN HER WORK for the English wine industry over the last ten years or so, she has worked incredibly hard to raise the profile of English wine and, most importantly to ensure that the message of quality is delivered. Her energy and enthusiasm are unrivalled and her inclusive attitude diplomacy and ability to bring people together are admirable.
Nominated by: Katharine O’Callaghan, Callaghan Communications
ukvine says: Truly the face of English Wine Producers, Julia promotes the interests of the EWP membership by presenting its public face to the wider world.
19. Susanna Forbes, DrinkBritain.com
Nomination: SHE HAS HELPED raise the profile of English vineyards across the country via her drinkbritain.com website. Susanna has dedicated so much of her own time to travelling the breadth of the UK getting to know winery owners, vineyards and English wines. She started doing this long before English wines became fashionable and should be credited, along with a handful of people, with laying the foundations for this success.
Nominated by: Katharine O’Callaghan, Callaghan Communications
ukvine says: Susanna has been ‘out and about’ to much of the industry in order to promote the cause on her website and is to be congratulated on her efforts to unite wine with the other great drinks this island produces.
20. James Graham, ukvine.com
Nomination: FOR ESTABLISHING AN informative and entertaining website dedicated to news about English wine, giving people across the industry the opportunity to share their opinions, some of which are controversial and thought-provoking and to spread the news about the English wine industry.
Nominated by: Katharine O’Callaghan, Callaghan Communications
ukvine says: Praise must also be given to co-founder Daniel Manning in providing the crisp, modern look to the website and the user-friendly newsletter.