Daniel says: “Having grown up in Jersey, it is an honour to be in charge of the Island’s first and only commercial vineyard, it’s like being handed a blank canvas. Unlike our European rivals, we are not shackled by tradition or heavily regulated like the French and instead are in the fortunate position of being able to pioneer something new and inventive. There are still some new frontier possibilities”
A former chef, who trained at Highlands College and worked at the Connaught Hotel and the Tante Claire in London, Daniel first discovered a nose for wine after establishing a restaurant kitchen at a winery in New Zealand. After leaving the demands of a culinary career path behind, he began working at Pegasus Bay Winery in Waipara north of Christchurch where he spent a season pruning the vines.
Daniel says: “The vines whispered to me during our winter communion and the next step was obvious, studying Viticulture and Oenology – the study of winemaking, a four year degree at Lincoln University, New Zealand. At a time when cool climate winemaking in the Southern Hemisphere was really taking off, I was able to get some excellent first-hand experience, work with some talented people and receive a solid foundation in the winery and vineyard.”
During his studies, Daniel also continued to work a further four vintages at Pegasus Bay Winery and upon graduating, worked for Tyrell’s Wines in the Hunter Valley, Australia. Daniel also spent the 2004 vintage in Marlborough, New Zealand working for Spy Valley wines whose vineyards boarder those of the famous Cloudy Bay.
After returning to Jersey last year he accepted a job at La Mare Vineyards and in November took up the role of Winemaker and Production Manager.
Daniel says: “After spending so long travelling, returning home has given me a grounding that I haven’t had for many years. We are lucky to have a mild climate and are on the same latitude as the Champagne region and as long as we play to our strengths – making quality sparkling wine, light structured fruity reds and zesty whites – we are in with a serious chance, in the good years, of expressing the true character of Jersey.”
As well as wanting to see more Island sommeliers recommending La Mare’s wine, Daniel also wants to introduce cider and apple brandy to a larger audience.
He says: “I think there is potential for a classic cider revival and would like to see it on tap in the Island’s pubs in the future. As for the brandy – the oldest casks we have at the moment are 10 years but I would like to see 20 and 50 year old – it would be a nice legacy to leave behind!”
This month the vineyard is launching the new 2003 vintage of its pink sparkling wine called Lilly in new half size (37.5cl) bottles for the first time which will be launched in time for Valentine’s Day.