In Conversation with...Steven Spurrier of Bride Valley Vineyard
Steven Spurrier is one of the world’s leading figures in wine with a career as a critic, retailer and consultant affording him extensive knowledge on the subject.
His beautiful Dorset estate is now home to 10 hectares of vines, planted with the three traditional sparkling wine varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
How did you get into the wine industry?
Via an interview with Christopher’s of St James’s to be taken on as a trainee.
What did you do as a career before?
This was my first and only choice or career.
What did you want to be as a kid?
Having been offered a glass of Cockburn 1908 Port at the family house by my grandfather on Christmas Eve 1954, my sights were set on the wine trade.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stick with it and don’t be discouraged.
What is your favourite part of the winemaking/viticultural process?
My favourite part is tasting and of course drinking. The only difference between tasting and drinking is paying attention.
Do you have any vineyard/winery/harvest rituals?
No, the climate and the ripeness or not of the grapes determine everything.
How do you deal mentally with the long hours and unpredictable nature of the job?
I don’t consider the hours, if they are long, to be arduous, for I like what I do. The challenge is always there along with the pleasure.
If you were to plant a new vineyard now, which varieties would you plant?
Vermentino and Cabernet Franc, but not in Dorset.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Peter Femfert, owner of Fattoria Nittardi in Chianti Classico, who has two passions: art and wine, which I share.
What sets your vineyard/wine apart from others?
The Kimmeridgian chalk soils and the proximity to the sea – Bride Valley is part of the Jurassic Coast.
Tell us a little about your vineyard dog?
Maud, (a Collie/Labrador/Springer cross) treats the vineyard as her personal playground.
What’s your favourite time of year in the vineyard/winery?
Spring when the vines have woken up and are budding and autumn for the harvest.
If you could invite one celebrity to the vineyard/winery, who would it be and why?
Alexis Lichine. My hero for many reasons, who would be so surprised that I have planted a vineyard.
If you were a grape variety, which one would you be?
Cabernet Franc – very good in a blend and excellent on its own.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Listening to jazz and reading.
Describe yourself in three words.
Sociable, idealistic, discreet.
Quick Fire Round
Still or Sparkling?
Chardonnay or Pinot Noir?
Pinot Noir if forced to choose.
Oaked or Unoaked?
Smooth or crunchy peanut butter?