Zoe Driver - Hattingley Valley
Vineyard: Hattingley Valley
Position: Winemaking Apprentice
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I worked a harvest at Domaine Chandon in Australia and absolutely fell in love with winemaking. When I returned to the UK I tried to do several ‘normal’ jobs and hated them all. After lots of research, I realised what I really wanted to do was actually possible in the UK.
Please describe your winemaking journey so far…
I have absolutely no background in wine at all; I studied English and Drama at University and always thought I would work in some sort of media/arts role. However after graduating, I travelled the world for a couple of years and stopped to work in Australia to top up funds. I started working front of house at Domaine Chandon but after seeing the winery in action decided I wanted to give it a try. I worked the 2015 harvest, had the time of my life, and as previously mentioned, made it my goal to find a job in a winery in the UK when I returned. I am extremely lucky that I was offered the first Winemaking Apprentice role in the UK and have worked at Hattingley full time for the past year or so, whilst studying part-time at Plumpton College and gaining my WSETs.
Describe your personal highlight of your career so far.
As I’m still very new into my career, I would say the main highlight for me is completing a full year in the winery; right from the grapes coming in at harvest, all the way through to bottling. Working three harvests has also been brilliant fun and invaluable in terms of learning.
Can you think of a valuable piece of information/advice you wish you had been given prior to training?
I was extremely nervous and anxious before starting in the winery, and seriously doubted my capability in the role, so I would say to relax and be confident in myself, know it’s OK to ask lots of questions, and understand that I will be working very hard and learning A LOT. Drinking lots of varied wines to broaden your mind and palate is also never a bad thing!
Which of your current wines are you most excited about?
It’s got be our 2011 Blanc de Blancs Magnum – a world champion wine!
What were the last two truly memorable English wines (that weren’t your own) that you tasted?
I enjoy trying wines that are a little bit different and undoubtedly British, so to that end Breaky Bottom’s 2013 sparkling Seyval Blanc, and Danebury’s 2013 Madeleine Angevine.
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?
I would encourage absolutely anyone and everyone to work a wine harvest, either in the UK or abroad – it is amazing fun, and gives you a real flavour of winemaking – you might just realise you have found your dream job!