James Snowden - Plumpton
Course details: MSc Viticulture & Oenology
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I'm not yet a winemaker, a budding wine scientist however I think! I was inspired by a love of drinking and exploring wine combined with a desire to create a sustainable product people can buy into, and enjoy with friends and family. An interest and academic background in biological/geographical sciences with focus on environmental sustainability and climate change have played a big part, as they are important to the present and future of viticulture and winemaking. Hopefully, I can create a product that combines great grape growing/winemaking with truly sustainable and innovative practices, or perhaps contribute in the industry to a more sustainable future in a different way (through consultancy for example).
Please describe your winemaking journey so far…
I wasn't always destined for a career in this industry. I was originally going to go into environmental conservation, or perhaps the British Army (having previously done a stint in the Finnish Army). Other than Plumpton College studies (which have been intense and all-engaging), I have had ad-hoc work in a few wineries and plan to begin the career properly after the conclusion of my MSc Project/Dissertation.
What will your MSc Project/Dissertation focus on?
The project is an observational study. It investigates the relationship between ambient air temperature and topography within a vineyard, to provide a comprehensive picture of vineyard temperature spatial variability, and the associated effect on grapevines and grape development.
Describe your personal highlight of your career so far.
A study trip to Champagne in early 2017, meeting amazing producers with the other MSc students and the great Chris Foss. Also learning some tricks of the trade from Dermot Sugrue at Wiston, cracking chap.
Can you think of a valuable piece of information/advice you wish you had been given prior to training?
As a wine student, many (friends especially) will think you drink wine for a living rather than working hard (if only), when you know it's actually very different. Ignore them and study hard, wine making and viticulture are complex subjects. The best winemakers, viticulturists, and vineyard manager, whom I aspire to join, have all done their time studying and working hard to understand and master their craft.
If you could picture yourself in 10 years time, where would you be?
Actively contributing to the betterment of wine home and/or abroad, whether it be involved with growing top-class grapes, making top-class wine, or helping others do it.
What were the last two truly memorable English wines (that weren’t your own) that you tasted?
1) Hindleap Blancs de Blancs 2010
2) Sugrue Pierre 'The Trouble With Dreams' 2013
Decanter recently published an article which highlighted a shortage of young recruits into the English Wine industry - what would you say in order to convince young people in the UK into considering a career in winemaking?
You get to make wine (a product loved by millions) for a living, you get to spend summers between the vines alongside nature, you can drink amazing wine and discover new food cultures that are inherently linked, and can travel to stunning locations to continue that work or just to visit. The industry opens up a world you wouldn't see behind your desk in the city.