Oliver Whitfield - Exton Park
Vineyard: Exton Park
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I was at college in Somerset with no aspirations of going to University or further education. The plan was to finish up and join the military. Towards the end of my time at college, one of my Mum’s old school friends came to stay. They had grown up together in Cornwall and then he had moved away to New Zealand. He asked about my plans and gave me the better option of a gap year working on his vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand. Needless to say this was the best opportunity in the world. I jumped at it. During my time there I worked a vintage and did a full season in the vineyard. At the same time I learnt about the course at Plumpton College and set plans into motion to get onto the wine production course there.
Please briefly describe your winemaking journey so far…
- A vineyard season in Marlborough, New Zealand, working for Barker's Marque.
- A vintage with Ager Sectus Wine Industry, Marlborough, New Zealand.
- FdSc Wine Production, Plumpton College.
- Vineworks Ltd, South England
- A vintage with Marisco, Marlborough, New Zealand
- Exton Park Vineyard, Hampshire, Winemaker.
Describe your personal highlight of your career so far.
Personal highlights have got to be seeing a wine you made on a shelf for the first time.
Being with Exton Park Vineyard during it’s transformation into a well known and successful English wine company. Receiving gold medals for several of our wines.
Can you think of a valuable piece of information/advice you wish you had been given prior to training?
It all starts in the vineyard. If you neglect the vineyard, you will never make a good wine. It all starts with the vines and knowing them and their fruit.
Which of your current wines are you most excited about?
The Exton Park Rosé NV. My favourite wine we make. It is delicate, complex and packed full of easy drinking pleasure.
What were the last two truly memorable English wines (that weren’t your own) that you tasted?
Hambledon Classic Cuvee.
Lyme Bay Classic Cuvee.
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?
If you fancy creating a truly stunning product that you can be proud of, tasting the difference between Kent and Cornwall and joining a very friendly community, the English wine scene is the place to start.