Wine industry needs more workers

England’s wine industry needs more workers. After a record year, three millionbottles of English wine could be produced using 2009’s grapes, but the number of skilled workers in the industry is falling behind the increased production.

To combat this, the Government and the European Commission have provided £1.6 million for winemaking classes at Plumpton College, East Sussex, the only UK undergraduate college with its own vineyard and winery. Frazer Thompson, managing director of the English Wines group, says: ‘This is essential for the industry. As it grows, we must have an educational structure to nurture homegrown talent.

We need people working on the land, growing grapes and making wine brilliantly, not merely sipping it when wearing a tux and a bowtie. At the moment, in this country, we’re stronger on the creative side-selling and writing about wine-but this is ultimately a profession that’s close to the earth.’ Mr Thompson’s company, which owns the award-winning Chapel Down label, is committed to planting at least another 200 acres over the next three years, as long as it can find a workforce with the necessary skills.

He adds: ‘This is one of the most exciting times in English wine history. What sets people apart in this industry is passion if you don’t like the product that you’re going to consume, it won’t work. However, wine is also a serious long-term investment-it’s probably one of the safest areas in the current climate. We’ve been drinking wine for 3,000 years so far, and I’m sure we’ll be drinking it for another 3,000 years.’