After working in prestigious wineries in some of the great wine regions of the world, Jeremy Mount was tempted back to England in 2016 by Woodchester Valley Vineyard, who were planning a winery and looking for a winemaker – and the rest is history.
Winemaker at Woodchester Valley Vineyard
We are a single estate vineyard in South Cotswolds AONB, near Stroud – which was voted best place to live 2021 in the Sunday times no less! There are three sites with 55 acres under vine, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Précoce, Ortega, Seyval Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Regent and Siegreeber. The winery and lab are very well equipped, enabling me to make the best quality wines possible. We have an excellent core team here, great to work with and extremely ambitious.
Fiona Shiner, who founded the vineyard, has an intricate attention to detail, with no compromise on the best quality possible in all areas of the business, from the vineyard to the accommodation we have on site, to the tour and tasting events and the winery.
Your winemaking journey?
Sometimes I guess you just fall into the industry that you’re meant to be in, and winemaking was that for me. It stemmed from living in South Africa and visiting the wine routes and working for a few years in France. I’m from a fruit farming family in Kent and have seen the development of the wine industry over the last 20+ years, which was an influence.
I gained a BSc (hons) at Plumpton College and then left England to work in several prestigious wineries around the world, including Stags leap in Napa, Rupert and Rothschild Franschhoek, worked in northern Burgundy while living in Chablis, and southern Germany in Franconia. I also worked at Bluebell vineyard in Sussex. Before I returned to England, I worked at an ISO 17025 accredited lab at Matua on South Island New Zealand.
How is this year’s harvest shaping up?
This growing season has had some challenges! Firstly, avoiding the frost, but flowering and fruit set were fine, and because of the superb, relentless work of the vineyard team, the vines are all in very good condition and disease free. We’re looking at a good year across all varieties, just fingers crossed for more settled warm conditions over the next month.
Lot of awards
Fortunately, all the wines one year or another have done very well, and I think our best accolade would be for the Sauvignon Blanc. The 2017 was the first English Sauvignon Blanc to get silver in an international competition, then the 2018 was the first to get international Gold (97 points) in IWSC, and a Gold in the Drinks Business global Sauvignon Blanc masters.
What is your winemaking philosophy?
My aim with our still wines is to make the cleanest wine possible, expressing the best characteristics of the variety, complexity is a key factor but only so long as it doesn’t outbalance the flavour and aroma. For the sparkling wines, I aim for good aging and clean wines, while keeping a distinct difference within the range, without straying from our own personal tastes here.
Any exciting developments?
There’s been a lot of development recently, with our tasting room doubling in size, the excellent holiday accommodation being completed, as well as another large storage facility added to keep up with the increase in production. In the pipeline there’s a lot more but that will all be revealed later!
What are the opportunities and challenges facing the industry?
There are many challenges confronting the industry, from distribution networks internationally to regional tourism. The increase in demand as well as the seemingly exponential increase in production could present challenges in consistency of wine quality. Specifically, still wines such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay; while the demand is there, and prices are high, year-on-year quality is difficult to achieve in the marginal climates we have here.
What are your top tips for becoming a winemaker?
I think it’s essential to have good background knowledge from both the viticultural and oenological side. I recommend any budding winemaker to get out of England and experience different methods of production from Old World to New World – from the commercial facilities doing everything to precision or natural/low intervention winemaking and of course the middle road.
Favourite wine (other than your own)?
I have many very good friends that are excellent winemakers – but if I had to pick one producer or wine it would be the Gusbourne Pinot Noirs.
In your spare time…
I do a lot of trekking and get out to the Alps as often as I can over the winter season.