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Future winemakers wanted: Plumpton flags growing demand for English-trained wine graduates

August 8th, 2017

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Plumpton College’s head of wine Chris Foss has revealed to Harpers that the college is experiencing strong demand for it’s English-language trained graduates as it looks to keep up with a growing domestic and global industry.

As the UKs only supplier of wine business, wine production, and viticulture and oenology degree courses, Plumpton currently sends around 100 undergraduates out into the wine world each year, to work both at home and abroad in a variety of production and related business roles, including winemaking, viticulture, marketing, finance and management.

“It’s a really good career working in wine, but a lot of people say they never realised that you can become a winemaker in the UK, and as we are not a huge university, we don’t have a big marketing budget to let people know,” said Foss.

“In the English wine industry vineyards are getting bigger and more are being planted, but there is a shortage of people setting up wineries and making wine,” continued Foss. “There is a lot of opportunity for newly trained people and from a wine business point of view we are getting more and more offers from companies that are looking for staff both in the UK and abroad… and we have the students.”

In addition to the burgeoning UK winemaking scene, Foss highlights that many graduates find work overseas, with websites such as Travelling Winemaker – Living the Dream and Cellarhand connecting British-trained students with jobs in countries such as South Africa, New Zealand, California and elsewhere.

However, Plumpton is keen to attract more school leavers and first time students to its courses, with the average age of undergraduates hovering around 30 as people who have made some money, often in the City, and who are looking at wine as a second career bump up the average age.

“We don’t get a lot of school leavers because they don’t think much about wine,” says Foss, reflecting the broader picture when it comes to wine engagement across the UK.

“It’s a very serious, engaging industry with lots of good career prospects – all over the world, not just in England - and often people don’t realise until they have done a first degree and committed to something else,” says Foss. “And we are pretty much the only people running courses in English in Europe, which is another benefit.”

The UK industry is peppered with Plumpton alumni, including people such as Laithwaites buyer David Zyv and Mark Driver who owns Rathfinney Estate in Sussex, with Plumpton trained winemakers and wine business graduates increasingly working all over the world.

Plumpton College Wine Division’s degree courses include: Wine Business foundation degree and BA (Hons); Wine Production foundation degree; and Viticulture and Oenology BSc (Hons).