The Vineyard Manager
Paulo Santos is responsible for nine hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes growing on the slopes of Laverstoke Park Farm, near Overton in Hampshire.
The farm is owned by ex-racing car driver and Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter. A small area of vines was planted in 2006 with the majority following on in 2007.
What led you to a career in wine?
I grew up in Portugal and there my father and grandfather worked in the wine industry. Through them I gained a good understanding of what it was about. I also knew from an early age that I wanted to try and find a job that involved working outdoors.
After studying agricultural engineering at university I went on to a Masters degree in wine-making before completing a year with the Wine Growers Association. Being based in the Douro region, the home of Port, I was able to gain a broad experience visiting numerous vineyards.
What brought you to Hampshire?
I was excited by how quickly the English wine industry is growing and evolving. I was drawn here because I knew that working within the English wine community would be an interesting and rewarding experience.
England is one of the countries with the most potential for wine-making in the long term. I want to see English wine getting the recognition it deserves which I don’t think it currently receives on the international wine scene.
What have been the biggest challenges for you in the role?
The weather is always the biggest challenge for wine growers. Getting used to the English weather has certainly been interesting! I have never been so attentive to weather forecasts, I am forever checking them! Last year, the frosts were a worry for us all. Fortunately, the rest of the season was really strong so the outcome was not as bad as we feared at one point.
What does biodynamic wine mean?
We look at the wine as a whole rather than just the grapes or the final product. The soil is crucial, it has to be healthy and full of nutrients. If we take care of the soil, the soil will take care of the plants.
Do you have a typical day?
The season and the weather will often dictate the day. In the summer, we do a lot of soil testing to check the nutrient levels. Then there’s canopy management which is vital in biodynamic wine making, we do this by hand. Picking is a busy time, we have extra help for this which even included the office support staff last year! A lot of time is also spent working very closely with the team at Hattingley Valley where our wine is made.
What is the next wine to come from the vineyard?
We are excited to be launching our 2013 biodyanmic and organic sparkling wine in the spring. It has complex flavours and balance, we’re are really pleased with it.
How do you see the future of the English wine industry?
England is one of the countries with the most potential for wine-making in the long term. I think it has the same potential as the Champagne region, or even better. I plan to stay working in the UK so I can contribute to its future. I want to see English wine getting the recognition it deserves which I don’t think it currently receives on the international wine scene.
try it for yourself!
You can sip Laverstoke Park Sparkling Wine at Chewton Glen and The Bugle Inn. You can also buy directly from the farm and it is available from Fortnum and Mason. Discover more about the stockists below.
Chewton Glen is a 5-star country house hotel with an award-winning restaurant, spa, gym, pool and 130 acres of land.Find out more