Posted on 2nd March 2016
Students and lecturers have the vision and determination of Chris Foss to thank for creating the operation which exists today. Chris was bought up in France on a vineyard in Bordeaux owned by his mother’s family. At university Chris studied microbiology and later qualified as a teacher – after university Chris ran the family vineyard for 6 years, during which time he studied wine making and worked worked in vineyards and wineries in Sauternes (Chateau d’Yquem) and St Emilion, becoming Winemaker for the GFA Leclerc vineyard group.
Chris speaks fluent French which was distinct advantage in gaining practical experience. In 1988 Chris started the first courses in Wine Production at Plumpton College after three years teaching in secondary education. During the early days the Wine Department only had two rows of vines, now Plumpton boasts a 16 acre vineyard locally, another a few miles to the north in Scaynes Hill and a small research vineyard inside the college grounds.
Since Chris established the Plumpton College Wine Centre it has become a centre of excellence for cool climate wine production and is recognised throughout Europe and the rest of the world for its’ work including establishment of the first dedicated Viticulture and Oenology Research Centre in the UK. Expansion of The Wine Department has enabled the team to develop postgraduate provision in wine and undertake research, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Brighton, whilst still delivering outstanding education for the students. Research is an important problem solving tool for the expanding English & Welsh wine industries and of international importance for cool climate wine production.
|Chris Foss in the Wine Department vineyard at Ditchling.|
Chris takes great pride in the fact that “Our courses are unique, being the only English language undergraduate and post graduate viticulture and wine courses taught in Europe”.
Plumpton graduates now work all over the world including Australia, Burgundy, England (naturally), California, Canada, Chile, Languedob-Roussillon, New Zealand, Portugal, & Languedob-Roussillon. Late in 2015 Plumpton graduate Steve Farquharson visited with some of his Wooing Tree wines for students to taste – coincidentally the visit from New Zealand coincided with the Rugby World Cup!
|Steve Farquharson of Wooing Tree Vineyard in New Zealand|
Wines produced by The Wine Department include Plumpton Estate Cloudy Ridge Red & plus sparkling The Dean Brut NV & The Dean Blush NV, all stocked by the English supermarket Waitrose http://www.waitrosecellar.com/search/plumpton+estate
As Chair of South East Vineyards Association Chris is heavily involved in organising the 2016 ICCWS International Cool Climate Wine Symposium in Brighton after visiting Tasmania in 2012 as part of the successful small delegation of Brits who pitched for the privilege of hosting the prestigious event.
<> E N D S<>
About the author:
I’m a commercial photographer based in Burgess Hill, West Sussex and have worked with Plumpton College since the 2001 Foot & Mouth Crisis where I created a calendar to raise funds for the college Rag Week. I created the Board Room portrait of past Principle John Brookham. I’ve lived and worked in Sussex all my life and am passionate about the countryside and rural economy. In 2008 I founded Friends of Wolstonbury www.wolstonbury.com a conservation group who maintain a very special part of the South Downs National Park alongside the National Trust.
"If Carlsberg did networking they would do it the BHBPA way. Each event is packed with great ideas, thought provoking presentations and fun. As a small business we feel supported and part of the community. We have built friendships and business relationships and there is always plenty of advice on hand to benefit us all so don’t hesitate to join whatever the nature of your business. "
"“I have belonged to this group since I started my own business, Lea Graham Associates, in 1986. The association has been through several incarnations since then, but its most recent one, BHBPA, is by far the best.
It’s much more than just a networking group, although it is supremely good at that too. BHBPA is inclusive and friendly and acts like a mutual-support society. The events are stimulating, worthwhile and often great fun and I believe most members share this opinion.”"
"“We have been members of BHBPA from its inception, and seen the organisation steadily grow and expand into the dynamic entity it is today, bringing positive benefits to all its members.""
"The BHBPA is an energetic and vocal organisation that connects and empowers and informs the local business community acting as an effective conduit to local authority and other organisations. We are proud to be part of that community and the association."