• What wine students think of the Plumpton College experience

    This week anxious teenagers will be ripping open their A Level results fearing the worst, and hoping their dreams might actually come true. The choices for further eduction are endless and there are far more routes to take than ever before. Including a qualification in viticulture, winemaking and the wine industry. Here, in the first of two articles, we catch up with two students from the Plumpton College about what a course in wine has meant for them.

    This week anxious teenagers will be ripping open their A Level results fearing the worst, and hoping their dreams might actually come true. The choices for further eduction are endless and there are far more routes to take than ever before. Including a qualification in viticulture, winemaking and the wine industry. Here, in the first of two articles, we catch up with two students from the Plumpton College about what a course in wine has meant for them.

    mm By August 15, 2018

    As the UK wine industry grows by the year, it is only fitting that it has an education college up to the challenge of producing the next generation of winemakers, viticulturists and business leaders. We talk to two students from the highly respected and successful Plumpton College in Sussex about what their wine business and viticulture courses have done for them. 

     

    Daria Ershova, aged 28 from Vladivostok, Russia

    Recent graduate in Wine Business BA

    Daria
    Daria has given up a career in finance in Moscow to learn the world of wine at Plumpton College

    How did you become interested in wine (production or business) ?

    I am still relatively new to wine. About four years ago when I was working in finance in Moscow my sister told me about a short evening wine course for amateurs. At that point I knew literally nothing about wine and felt quite intimidated when it was my turn to choose wines in restaurants. This Course happened to be quite fun, nothing extremely serious and most important it evolved a lot of tastings! Since then my interest in wine has been only growing. The more I read the more I understand how extremely versatile wine can be and how many factors can affect it.

    Why did you choose Plumpton?

    After a year of reading about wines of the world and going to tastings I decided to make wine my career. For me wine business degree was a logical step – the way to marry my passion for wine and my knowledge of business.

    At that time Plumpton College was the only one provider of Wine Business BA degree in English.  England, particularly London, has a strong reputation of being a centre of the international wine trade. I assumed that there is a good concentration of wine business knowledge in here.

    How have you found studying oversees? (Only relevant if you’ve travelled from overseas)

    It was a very new experience to me. I never lived or studied oversees before Plumpton.

    Overall, it was an amazing experience as I learned a lot not only about wine but also about different culture. Also it was very good for improving my English

    What’s it like studying at Plumpton?

    It was great! I especially enjoyed the fact that groups are quite small.  All lectures have an individual approach to each student and advocate an open-door policy. Also, for me was important to learn not only about the business side but also about oenology and viticulture. I had all the opportunities in Plumpton.

    Plumpton Wine Department is a little community of people who are very passionate about wine and jobs/courses they are doing. People in the industry love their jobs, this was probably a major highlight of my studies in Plumpton and overall experience of wine industry. Before that I met a lot of people in banking and finance who were not that keen on the area where they work.

    What have been your highlights whilst studying at Plumpton Wine Division?

    It is quite difficult to pick. Highlights were:

    • Making wine in the first year (we had a small allocation of grapes, had to press them by feet and then ferment, filter, bottle)
    • Representing college at the Europea Championship (European competition of wine schools)
    • Running my own sensory evaluation session of 6 English sparkling wines and 6 Champagnes for a group of students attempting to identify their individual organoleptic characteristics and identify the differences. It was part of the 3-year module.
    • Meeting people with the same interests from all around the world (Plumpton lecturer Tony Milanowski runs career talks where he invites people from the industry share their stories of making career in the wine industry).

    What will you take away with you from studying at Plumpton?

    • I learned everything that I know about wine in Plumpton, so obviously knowledge
    • A lot of amazing friends
    • Confidence that I can make a successful career in wine if I work hard and keep learning

    How will you apply what you’ve learnt to your future career?

    What’s next?

    I am joining Liv-Ex (London Wine Exchange) to work on an exciting project of implementing LWIN (a unique code which allows to accurately identify an individual wine product).

    What would you say to someone thinking of starting a career in the wine industry?

    Be proactive, if you study wine go out there and meet as many people from the industry as possible. By going to the tasting, visiting producers around England you can meet a lot of interesting people and learn about different types of wine careers and how to get there.

    But theoretical knowledge is very important too, so never stop reading about wine.

    Who is your biggest inspiration?

    My friend and fellow graduate Marcus Rayner, he was probably the most hard working and persistent student in Plumpton that I’ve met. Only 1 month and a half after our graduation he secured a job as an assistant winemaker in one of the top wineries in the UK, Wiston Estate.

    Mary Bridges, aged 25, Inverness, Scotland 

    Studying BSc Viticulture & Oenology

    Mary Plumpton College
    Mary Bridges has had the chance to travel to Georgia in her first year at Plumpton College

    How did you become interested in wine (production or business) ?

    I ended up working in hospitality when I left school and fell into managing a wine list. During this time I studied WSET level 3 and really enjoyed it. Over time I wanted to be more involved with the production side of things so looked into going back to school!

    Why did you choose Plumpton?

    It was quite simple – it’s in the UK!

    What’s it like studying at Plumpton?

    I really love it. We have brilliant lecturers who make sure we are getting the best out of the course. Its a great environment to be in and for me there is a good balance of theory based lectures and more practical ones. One of the best things about it is the opportunity for study trips abroad. I have been very lucky to have travelled to Montpellier, Georgia and Slovenia all in my first year.

    What have been your highlights whilst studying at Plumpton Wine Division?

    The trip to Georgia in April was incredible. It was great to learn about a different and very old way of making wine and the Georgian hospitality was second to none. Experiencing the passion for their traditions was really quite amazing. Another highlight would be the opportunity to spend three months in the south of France this summer working in a vineyard. It’s given me the chance to use the knowledge gained in the first year and apply it for real – it’s lots of fun.

    What will you take away with you from studying at Plumpton?

    I think for me it’s the people that I study with. They have been a huge part of why I enjoy the course so much. Meeting people from all over who share a passion and are all very driven is really motivating and I hope we can continue to be in touch and support each other long after Plumpton.

    What’s next?

    I would like to travel a bit and get a few vintages in before I settle into something more permanent. It’s a really exciting prospect to be able to travel whilst doing something I love. And after all I am very new to the industry and want to gain as much experience as I can in more than just one region.

    What would you say to someone thinking of starting a career in the wine industry?

    Do it! Also that it is ok not to know exactly which area of the wine industry you want to be in. I certainly don’t have a concrete plan but think that the courses at Plumpton provide such a great base for new people in the wine industry that you can figure it all out along the way. And you’ll have a fantastic experience too!

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