Saturday 21 October 2017

Meet the Winemaker: Simon Fisher

The south London borough of Croydon can boast of being more than the home town of Kate Moss: it is also home to West Fisher Winery. Founded in early 2009, the West Fisher Winery produces a limited range of wines at present – both English and British wines.

“As a small winery we are able to bring in grapes, juice, must or concentrate from European growers as well as UK vineyards,” says owner Simon Fisher (pictured). “We are always keen to hear from English or Welsh vineyards looking to sell on their grapes from the upcoming 2011 harvest.”

How old were you wine you first tasted wine?

I am not 100% certain how old I was but I do remember sneaking tastes of my mother’s home made wine when I was quite young, probably about 10 years old. I have quite vivid memories of tasting her apple wine when I was in my early teens and I am still badgering her for the recipe.

What has been your worse wine decision?

This could take a while!! Wine making is complicated and expensive and any mistake can quickly become a big one. I would say probably diving in the deep end possibly a year earlier than I was ready to start commercial production. Is that a mistake though as it has forced me to learn quickly and taught me a few hard won lessons that will see me in good stead for many years?

In a restaurant, is it Old or New World?

I’m a new world style producer and prefer the new world wines without a doubt. I find them to be fresher, more vibrant and exciting.

Have you ever opened a Champagne bottle with a sword?

Sadly no but I am only 42 so I have time.

Minimum unit pricing: good or bad?

The basic concept is not really a bad idea if it was actually enforced properly but the best way to stop binge drinking is education. Cheap supermarket deals where they sell at a loss to bring in customers only encourage binge drinking. I know several people who regularly stock up on crates of lager because they are on offer or have bought really cheap vodka which is almost undrinkable. If they had any idea what was in it, they would probably not buy it.

Dream bottle of wine?

My absolute favourite variety is Pinot Noir; the best English one I have ever tasted came from Derek Pritchard’s Dunkery Vineyard in Exmoor.

Off-licence choice: Old World or New World?

New world preferably although I do enjoy a good French Cabernet occasionally.

Favourite off-licence chain or independent?

Can’t say I have a preference at present; I do buy wine obviously as well as enjoying my own wines but usually buy at Sainsbury’s for the convenience. I visit several vineyards through the year and always take the opportunity to stock up on my favourite English wines when I get the chance.

Cork or screw cap for your wine?

David Cowderoy of Wineskills fame will shoot me for saying it but cork every time.

How many hours a week can you commit to your wine?

I spend every morning in the winery every day of the week except some Sunday mornings but I am here every day for some period of time. Also of course we have markets almost every weekend, it’s not full time yet but getting close to it.

Away from the winery, what is your day job?

I’m an architectural consultant by trade, need an extension built I’m your first port of call!

When do you anticipate being able to produce wine full-time?

I am aiming for next year sometime. Our current premise lease expires in September 2012 and I intend to be set up in new premises well before that, to do that I really need to be producing around 20,000 bottles and have at least 2,000 sq feet of space. that’s scary commercial size.

What is your annual production at West Fishery?

Last year’s production was a lot lower than we originally aimed for; we had a number of problems that delayed us so our production was a little over 2,500 bottles. This year we are aiming for 7,500 and I see no reason why we won’t hit that target and as I said earlier we need to reach 20,000 from the 2012 harvest.

Where do you obtain your grapes and raw material?

We buy grapes from various sources, our current stock is a mixture of Italian and English grapes. We will be making new British wines this year from Italian juice and we have an advance order placed with the Fonthill Glebe Vineyard and Winery in Salisbury for 2,500 litres of English juice, 500 litres of five varieties. Also last year we harvested from local gardens and produced over 200 litres of our first ever truly Croydon vintage. We are always keen to hear from anyone who has grapes available, small or large growers.

Where do you sell your wine?

The majority is largely sold at Farmers Markets, we hold several key events at the winery each year (Summer BBQ will be the first weekend in June) and wine tasting events at schools or for corporate customers.

West Fisher Winery
46 Chapel View, South Croydon, Surrey, CR2 7LF
020 8651 3664
info@westfisher.co.uk
www.westfisher.co.uk