Nicola Gutman

Liberty Wines Apprentice 2008

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The great advantage of being an Apprentice is the breadth of wine industry experience you gain."

Michelle Lawlor and I were the first apprentices. Before joining Liberty, Michelle had worked in a restaurant in Covent Garden in London, with the responsibility of maintaining the wine list, and I was a City lawyer...

I'd been looking for an opportunity to join the wine trade and the apprenticeship presented a great opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of the trade.

It's a hectic and intense learning experience. One month you're sitting at a desk organising customer events and supplier visits, and the next you're on the other side of the world digging grape skins out of a tank.

The great advantage of being an Apprentice is the breadth of wine industry experience you gain, from making wine to sales, logistics, marketing and finance. It really offers an insight into where your strengths and passions lie.

The absolute highlight of the two years for me was working the two vintages.

The first was in Friuli with Michelle. After a gruelling twelve hour shift in the winery we'd amble to the local osteria for primi, secondi and large glasses of vino rosso!

My second vintage was in New Zealand: another intense, boot camp-like experience with a great team of people. I was collecting samples in the vineyards, plunging the pinot noir tanks, testing sugar levels, racking whites, doing inoculations, cleaning the presses, monitoring temperatures, tasting the ferments, digging grape skins out of tanks, and of course cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning.

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