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Young Winemaker of the Year award launched

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An initiative will recognise and support a talented young winemaker by giving them the opportunity to make and release a limited edition sparkling wine at the Herbert Hall Winery in Marden, Kent.

“The idea for an award grew out of discussions with Peter Morgan, until recently Head of Winemaking at Plumpton College,” says Herbert Hall founder Nick Hall. “Students graduate with comprehensive knowledge, skills and winery experience but it can often take a while before they put their full range of skills into practice; this programme gives an opportunity to take the lead in producing a wine for commercial release – a responsibility which might otherwise elude them for many years.

“Herbert Hall is a small, creative wine producer, committed to encouraging young talent; so rather than give a financial prize we felt it would be more valuable to give the winner the chance to make a sparkling wine in their choice of style and release it with their name on the label.”

The first recipient of the award is Kirsty Smith (24) who graduated from Plumpton College earlier this year. Smith proposed the idea of producing a barrel fermented ‘blanc de blanc’ cuvée and will oversee the process at every stage. Her wine will be launched under a special label as a limited edition of 1000 bottles.

“I am thrilled to have won this award and look forward to the challenge ahead,” says Smith. “Herbert Hall’s sparkling wines are widely recognised as amongst the very best – so this will be a great opportunity for me to put my training into practice in a winery committed to the highest quality standards. What makes this prize unique is that in addition to giving me responsibility for production I will be credited when the wine is launched. As a young winemaker that is an exciting and helpful proposition.”

Despite its size, Herbert Hall has established a unique reputation for producing handmade sparkling wines of great elegance and finesse. Its wines are available through leading wine merchants and stores including Lea & Sandeman, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum and Mason. Listings include The Ivy, Tate Britain, Le Caprice, Bibendum, and Simpson’s in the Strand. The winery makes a special organic cuvée for HRH Prince Charles under the Highgrove label.

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