Applications open for the 2023-2025 Liberty Wines Apprentice

We are delighted to announce that applications for the Liberty Wines Apprentice 2023-2025 are now open. Please visit our Apprentice Scheme page to find out more about this two-year, London-based programme and how to apply. The closing date for applications is Friday 9th June 2023.

Our 2021-2023 Apprentice, Aoife Curtin, retuned last month from her Southern Hemisphere vintage in Uruguay and describes her very hands-on experience working at Bodega Garzón below. Could our next Apprentice be you?

"My second vintage took me from the cold climes of London to sunny south-eastern Uruguay for the 2023 harvest at Bodega Garzón. This expansive vineyard is expertly run, and the wines are the result of thoughtful winemaking. Germán Bruzzone and his team are as organised and efficient as the vineyard layout that surrounds them, and I learned a lot in the two months that I was there. Below are just some of the many highlights of the experience:

Week 1-2: Each of the 1,200+ parcels at Bodega Garzón is planted at a different angle and aspect, with small dirt roads winding between them like a maze. If this appeared somewhat higgledy-piggledy at the start, I came to realise that nothing is accidental in the planning of this beautiful place. In fact, my first few weeks of harvest were spent mostly amongst the vines, while zooming around in a small tractor collecting samples for analysis in the lab. We then tested the grapes for their weight, acidity, pH and potential alcohol content in order to determine phenolic ripeness and decide on harvest dates.

Week 3-4: Uruguay experienced severe drought in December and January with hand harvesting beginning 15 days earlier than usual. When I arrived at the beginning of February, most of the white varieties had already been picked and were in stainless steel tanks or concrete tulips fermenting from must to wine. However, there was no shortage of red varieties to harvest, and these few weeks were spent at grape reception. Manual sorting ensured that only the highest quality grapes were used in the winemaking process. It also ensured that we were kept on our toes as creepy crawlies and little frogs often jumped unexpectedly from the belt and across our hands!

Week 5-7: All varieties except some Petit Manseng used for a late harvest sweet wine were harvested by the 15th of March. The final weeks of my vintage experience were spent inside the cellar where we spent most of our time racking the fermenting wines from one tank to another. There was also a lot of cleaning to be done! The work in any winery is busy but 2023 was particularly fast paced as, despite the atypical weather conditions earlier in the year, yields were 14% higher than those of 2022. By the final few weeks, we were all tired, but the team kept the energy levels high with lots of laughs and singalongs. I look forward to tasting the final wines when they make their way across the Atlantic ocean to us here in the UK. Not only do they show a lot of promise, but they will remind me of the incredible experience I had at Bodega Garzón."

Photo: Here, Aoife is sparging a tank with dry ice to remove oxygen from the tank.