The Producers: West Street Vineyard Wine School
PUBLISHED: 22:14 17 March 2014 | UPDATED: 22:14 17 March 2014
Copyright: Keith Mindham Photography 2013. This image is 'Licenced for Use' to: Essex Life magazine November 2013 single use onl
WOULD you believe that despite there being more than 400 vineyards covering England and Wales, Coggeshall's West Street Vineyard is the only one offering a wine school on the premises? It's the brilliant idea of Jane and Stephen Mohan, who realised their dream of owning their own vineyard back in 2009.
‘Initially, when I did my wine training, I had to go to Cambridge to do it and my husband did his wine training in London. There are also very few places to learn about English wines and with 56 English wines here on our list, I felt that too should be an important part of any wine school course.’
The courses also include other famous wine regions including Chile, Argentina and the Loire. Most Saturday’s the couple run an Introduction to Wine course where students get to taste up to 13 wines and have a walk around the vineyard, to understand first of all the actual growing process involved in producing a great crop of grapes.
‘It’s a really fun day too, I think there’s a lot of pretension in wine, so I want my students to try something new and experiment. We tend to just buy wine from the grapes we know, which is fine as wine is a luxury item. I like to get them to try say a Malbec, but not from Argentina for example, and we always begin the day with a dessert wine which causes all sorts of debate as people have very strong views about them.’
Lunchtime is also a time to interact with the rest of the group and to learn about how wines work with food. Each of the wine courses are for around 10 people and it’s possible just to book a single place and join others, or book in as a party of 10. ‘In reality, what matters with wine is if you like it; we all have a different palate.’
The visitors also learn about the different climates around the world and why certain grapes grow well in different parts. Jane herself tries new wines on the day too. ‘I buy wines I haven’t tasted before, normally with a wine course you’d expect the tutor to try them all beforehand, but I don’t, as I want to experience them with my students. I think wine should be about discovery. It’s such an amazing subject; every time I teach I also learn something, so we discuss and evaluate together.’
All of the dates for West Street Vineyard’s wine courses are on its website. This month it’s wines from Italy on Saturday, March 29. ‘Italy is an unbelievable wine region,’ adds Jane. ‘It’s so complex. You have to think about it as tiny, individual countries. Did you know there are more commercial varieties of grape grown in Italy than anywhere else in the world?’
Jane hopes that through her courses she can fuel the passion for wine discovery in her students. ‘The French refer to the terroir in the wine making process, meaning the soil, but I think it’s also the love and attention and emotion you bring to the whole process which makes the difference.’