Congratulations to Marie Davies, FWS, for achieving highest honors in the French Wine Scholar exam with Sussex Wine School.
I have been a wine enthusiast since 1996 when my father Denis, an Irish publican took me on the Beaujolais run with him. We visited lots of villages in Burgundy along the Cote D’Or and Cote Chalonnaise and within the Beaujolais region and it was there that I saw the first vines up close and became fascinated with the winemaking process and the stories that go with it. If I am passionate, it is thanks to him who taught me so much about famous wines of the world and inspired me to do what I do today.
After a 15-year long career in advertising and sales promotion within the luxury cosmetics and fragrance sector in London and Paris, I moved to Brighton where I started a family with my husband. As I could no longer travel to France I turned my attention to my other passion, wine.
Surrounded by beautiful vineyards in Sussex, I decided to retrain in wine. In 2018, with a wealth of sales knowledge and WSET Level 2 & 3 distinctions under my belt, I embarked on my mission to find a job at a Sussex vineyard. I quickly got hired by a large vineyard in Uckfield (Bluebell Vineyard) where I cut my teeth learning about the business and in February 2020 I moved to Stopham Estate in Pulborough, West Sussex where I am now. My role is to seek out new (on and off trade) business opportunities for the wines we produce, high quality, aromatic still wines and traditional method sparkling wines. I bring my love of wine, knowledge and enthusiasm to the brand, spreading the word about how good English Wine is and the merits of our hand-crafted wines. I enjoy educating and recruiting new customers, hosting trade tasting events and vineyard tours. I manage the social media and local sales and events for Stopham whilst keeping a close eye on the industry through my connections with trade networks such as Wine GB and Sussex Modern. It is a joy to be part of this growing industry in the UK and every day I learn something new.
I haven’t yet enrolled in more courses but I really enjoyed the FWS program, it complemented my WSET qualifications perfectly. Whilst FWS was a lot to take on at our busiest time of year (December) and with a full time job and 2 children I did it! I made time to learn. As my passion lies with France and all things French (I have a French degree and have lived in Toulouse and the Languedoc Roussillon) it was a pleasure to learn about the history of France and get a deeper understanding about how history has impacted winemaking and grape growing in France. Not forgetting about why various soil types are better suited to certain grape varieties and of course understanding more about the history of these soil types.
I think the FWS program has definitely deepened my knowledge in winemaking as a whole and I now have a richer understanding of why these regions in France are so famous for their wines.
I feel very proud to have received the FWS Guild qualification, particularly highest honours ! It is a badge of honor for any wine professional and I believe now and in my future roles to come, it will serve me well to talk knowledgably about wine with a firm understanding of the history and origins and matching soil types, climates to grape varieties. I can also share this knowledge with friends and family around the dinner table. I think more and more people are seeking to be educated on wine so that they can get the most enjoyment out of these bottles of liquid gold! I’m all for making wine tasting approachable, sociable and fun (with a few interesting facts thrown in !) For me it’s about story telling and hooking people in, getting them to understand it, awaken their senses, escape from the every day and drink better wine. A la votre!