I’m often asked, “How did you get into wine”. Well, my father-in-law has a wonderful cellar in Holland; that first sight of bottles, racks, wooden boxes and labels made my heart jump.
Seeing my enthusiasm he suggested a day in Germany’s Ahr Valley. The sun was shining, the vineyards were beautiful, the Rhine shimmered, we tasted wine with the winemakers in their cellars. I was hooked!
A friend recommended wine courses in London; I still remember my excitement when I passed the W.S.E.T. Diploma. But what next? Still hungry for knowledge I decided to see what this Master of Wine stuff was all about. In 1994 I passed! My joy on opening the envelope is the introduction to my short cartoon video that features on this website!
Most people know that I’m from Manchester so it’s not surprising that football was a big part of my life; I was on Stockport County’s books and still love turning out on a Tuesday night. I started playing squash whilst at university and it’s still part of my week.
After graduating (B.Sc. Civil Engineering) from Salford University, I moved to Cape Town, meeting my wife, who was on holiday from Holland, in Namibia. We decided to drive back to Europe overland; I took a job in Malawi en route … it was a fun, work hard-play hard society so I had time to play football in Malawi’s National League and squash for the National Team. Oh, we were married in Malawi too!
Having become a Chartered Engineer (C.Eng, FIStructE, MICE) and a partner in the company, I then opened a new office in South Africa, not a million miles from the Cape’s stunning vineyards. That said, I still had no interest in wine. Three years on, and two children later I returned to the UK to start my own structural engineering consultancy. I’d come full circle, just in time to clock the bottles, racks, boxes and labels in that Dutch cellar.
Engineering and wine ran in parallel but wine won the day for soon after becoming an MW, Surrey Mirror asked me to write a weekly wine column. Then, City Banks and a Cookery School asked me to ‘talk wine’ to their clients and chefs. I then became ‘the wine guy’ on BBC2’s Working Lunch and CNBC.
At that time I was amazed how people wanted to know more about wine but were too frightened to ask. Ask a soccer fan about “4-4-2” and he’ll explain this ‘team formation’ with gusto but if that fan asks about wine, chances are he’ll be totally confused by a torrent of members-only Wine Trade gobbledegook. It was then that I set out to make wine simple.
Engineering is a distant memory. It’s now Corporate Events, Team Building, Television and Radio, Wine Courses and writing about wine, from London to Sydney, from Bristol to Brisbane, always of course on a mission; to make wine work for you!