Virgil and Adina Moise spent a lot of time in 2021 setting up Vitis Care UK Limited. In February 2022 the business became operational and it didn’t take long before it was overwhelmed with demand. The company provides just about everything needed to plant, maintain and harvest a vineyard but its core function is the supply of much needed temporary labour.
Virgil (who is also the CEO) first became interested in Viticulture back in 2009 when he arrived from Romania to pick grapes. He became fascinated by the people that he met along the way and how different the lifestyles were between the two countries. The interest in viticulture grew and so did his skill at Vineyard Management Services.
“I worked for several vineyard establishments over the years, met some highly skilled viticulturalists and learned many skills along the way”. There were many skilled people who helped, too numerous to mention, but two people who highly influenced Virgil were Nick Cran-Crombie who is the vineyard manager at Hambledon Vineyard, Hampshire and Art Tukker from the Tinwood Vineyard in West Sussex. “I have learned a lot from Nick, and still do” he says. “…and at Tinwood where I held a supervisory position I learned all about spraying and tractor driving. The Tukker family have been like a second family to me and Tinwood is like a second home!”
Virgil also cites Julian Searle at Agri-Science as immensely helpful and supportive. He said: “Julian taught me a lot about chemicals, discussing what is needed for the vines”.
As well as running Vitis Care, Virgil is vineyard manager at Blackdown Ridge, which is situated in a beautiful setting within the South Downs National Park.
“The viticulture industry has grown rapidly over the last several years and, although there are other labour recruitment companies out there I noticed that something was missing. Vineyard managers were craving consistency and reliability. In a seasonal industry those things were hard to come by and so we wanted to ensure that we provided exceptional service where consistency and reliability were guaranteed for both our clients and our workers.”
Virgil reels off what he does: Planting, trellising, pruning, spray programming, canopy management, harvesting, oh…and of course…delivering lambs. Lucinda, Blackdown’s business development and marketing manager, takes up the story: “Virgil is incredibly adaptable and happily deals with anything that is thrown his way. During the lambing season I needed help with two lambs that were in difficulty. Without any hesitation Virgil came to my assistance and helped deliver them. Never have I met an individual so eager to help!”
In spite of his obvious skills delivering sheep his over-riding passion remains that of a vineyard management consultant and labour provider.
“Our main work is the recruitment and supply labour for vineyards and all types of vineyard work from planting to harvesting,” said the affable Vitis Care CEO.
“We’re devoted to building something that makes people’s lives better and also something that we can be proud of. We mostly recruit from Romania but we also have English, Portuguese and Bulgarian workers in the company and they are all happy to be a part of our ‘family’.”
The third member of the team is the Chris Hackett, Contracts and Accounts Director.
“Vitis Care has a common set of values that applies to all of its employees regardless of role, gender, age, nationality or background. We refer to this as our ‘MAP’ ”, said Chris, “…it is what connects us and brings out the best in each of us. It stands for ‘Making A Difference’, ‘All together better’ and ‘Proud of what we do’.“
“Every decision we’ve made along the way has been driven by the desire to operate in an ethical and socially conscious way. It helped guide our initial growth,” said Virgil. “We have three core principles:
1. Treat everyone how they want to be treated;
2. Include people in the conversation, the journey, the vision; and
3. Never ask anyone to do something that we are not prepared to do ourselves, or to stay somewhere we weren’t prepared to stay ourselves.
“These three fundamental concepts are what we live by and will continue to live by as we grow the business of the company. We are proud of it,” added Virgil.
“The UK Government and the wine industry needs a more collaborative approach to labour supply,” said Chris.
“There are so many variables and everyone is fighting for the same transient workforce and this is why Vitis Care has a clear understanding of its goals by providing exceptional services and taking care of its workers.
“We work with clients whose values align with ours and we seek out opportunities that fulfil our long-term vision. No one ever said changing lives was easy, but we’re up for the challenge,” explained Virgil.
It seems that there could be something in what Virgil says because the company continues to grow in spite of the challenges that vineyards face with labour-supply and there certainly seems to be no shortage of glowing testimonies either (see box outs).
Vitis Care does have very high standards when it comes to the welfare of its workers, and the long-term vision for providing quality service. “We are like one big family and are devoted to building a company that makes people’s lives better and that we can all be proud of,” said Virgil.
Virgil acknowledges that there are many challenges ahead for the English and Welsh wine sector but also many opportunities.
“Since Brexit, labour supply to British vineyards have fallen to less than a third of the required levels. Labour availability issues (since the end of freedom of movement of EU citizens) have been the focus of the industry even before Brexit.”
Although Vitis Care welcomes domestic workers the majority of its workforce are from Romania but Virgil remains steadfast in his optimistic approach to the future…
“We face many challenges as the demands for vineyard workers grow and, in spite of this we continue to engage Romanian workers who either have settled status or seasonal visas. We are good at what we do and slowly but surely we are building a strong reputation,” he said emphatically.
Vitis Care are continuously looking to expand the operation and work with new clients and Virgil doesn’t hold back on this either…
“We welcome enquiries from all potential clients and are able help them maximise their earning potential by providing a consistent supply of trained workers among changing seasonal demand. We have a good working relationship with many vineyard operators throughout the south east of England and we can provide them with highly-motivated workers.”
Vitis Care UK Limited provides:
- Labour supply
- Pest and disease management
- Vineyard maintenance
- Vineyard establishment
- Management of plant material
- Vineyard Infrastructure set up
- Site Evaluation
“I have found Vitis Care to be excellent to deal with. They are very responsive and have given me peace of mind that my vineyard is in good hands.” Tinwood Vineyard, West Sussex
“Vitis Care understands our desire for attention to detail and high quality work, and this is evident at all levels. We benefit from their open communications, dependability and commitment to deliver.” Hambledon Vineyard, Hampshire