As often said, if you are really keen to learn about the whole subject of wine you need a teacher. You can’t beat having somebody who knows telling you what to look for and what to try to learn. Like anything.
The South West Wine School (SWWS) threw open its doors at Dartmouth Food Festival in Devon recently. The public launch at Dartmouth involved a sold out speed tasting with five experts including Sunday Times wine writer Will Lyons, the Telegraph’s Susy Atkins, and the Guardian’s Fiona Beckett.
The SWWS is founded by Jonathan and Hayley Reynolds and supported by some of the biggest wine names in the region, including Susy Atkins, Liam Steevenson MW and Rebecca Mitchell DipWSET. The school aims to offer a range of events and courses, whether you’d like to learn about wine one-to-one, as part of a group, to gain a professional WSET qualification or as an innovative corporate activity.
Commenting on the idea to launch now, Hayley says: “We are living through what has been described as the ‘West Country Renaissance’, as entrepreneurs, start-ups and tech companies flock to Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, attracted by the space, accessibility and enviable lifestyle on offer. Food and drink have always been an important draw to the region, but now producers and restaurateurs find themselves at the very heart of what’s happening.”
For centuries the region has been a major importer of wines from France, Italy and beyond. Its flourishing hospitality scene attracts sophisticated clienteles from all over the world, with wine lists to match. Even more important, the local map is now pinned with vineyards, which include Sharpham, Lyme Bay Winery, Langham Wine Estate, Knightor and, most recently, Kenton Park Estate, to mention just a few. These not only fly the flag for English wine, but scoop top international awards. It’s the perfect backdrop for a contemporary wine school, where traditional wine appreciation skills meet the exciting reality of modern winemaking.
South West Wine School offers team building events: a session spent immersed in wine - learning about it, talking about it and of course sampling it. The team building events can be tailor-made for a group of ten up to 100, for a range of budgets. The School brings the wine, the glasses and the knowledge, and everything else is up to you.
Next up the team are hosting a ‘Wise up on Wine’ Christmas event at Southernhay House in Exeter on Wednesday 5th December, a Valentine’s Day ‘Speed Tasting’ at Kingston Estate near Staverton and a ‘First of the Summer Wine’ evening at the Deer Park Country House near Honiton. From January 2019 onwards, WSET level 1 and 2 courses will be held at Kenton Park Estate and Vineyard just outside of Exeter.
It seems the South West’s continuing wine growth (poor pun) is able to inspire those with wine knowledge to embark on a new enterprise. We wish them well.