Head Winemaker At Gusbourne – Interview With Mary Bridges

23rd April 2024

Head Winemaker At Gusbourne Interview With Mary Bridges

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this feature we speak with the lovely Mary Bridges, the extremely skilled Head Winemaker at Gusbourne in Kent, England, let’s discover a little about her journey into the wine industry, her favourite part of the job and her most memorable bubbly moment.

It’s Lovely To Speak With You, Mary, Can You Tell Us A Little About Yourself & How You Became Involved In The Wine Industry?

“I grew up near Inverness in Scotland and didn’t have a burning desire to do one thing or another when I left school, so I spent seven years working in hospitality. I always loved the wine aspect of my jobs the most and wanted to learn as much as I could about the world of wine. Whilst I was working, I put myself through WSET courses and that confirmed that wine was going to be my path. In 2017, I decided to make a change from hospitality and enrolled on the BSc in Viticulture and Oenology at Plumpton College. Through this, I worked for a season in the vineyards in the south of France and did a harvest in the Russian River Valley in California. I joined Gusbourne in 2018 for harvest and never left! Over the past six years at Gusbourne, I have been Cellar Hand, Assistant Winemaker, Oenologist and now, Head Winemaker.”

As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing English Sparkling Wine?

“It is important not to lose sight of the fact we are still making wine in a marginal climate. This means that each season can be quite different from the previous, and it is impossible to predict what the next season might bring. We have to be on the ball in the lead up to and at harvest and be ready to be as hands on or off as the season dictates. At Gusbourne, we make vintage only wine so the biggest challenge often comes at blending. It is about striking a balance between maintaining the style in our range, but also being able to tell the story of the vintage. I love that there is always something different in each vintage to celebrate so it becomes a challenge that I relish.”

You’re The Head Winemaker At Gusbourne, An Award Winning English Sparkling Wine Producer, How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?

“We check in on the wines a lot and each blend has a slightly different ‘tick box’ for when it is deemed ready. In the Blanc de Blancs, we might be waiting until the Chardonnay poise and precision is in harmony with the toasty, sweet patisserie flavours from lees aging, whereas the Blanc de Noirs will feel ready when the generous red and blue fruit character has married perfectly with the weight and depth from the lees aging. We have no hard and fast rules about time on lees, it is all about balance, so we need a good deal of patience!”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“The job is so varied, and in a lot of ways that is why I love it. But blending is a real highlight. It is really rewarding to bring the blends to life and fascinating to learn more and more about our individual vineyard blocks each year from the different base wine expressions. I feel extremely lucky to have a fantastic lot of tasters in our winemaking team and they all offer great perspective.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“Brighton beach with my Plumpton year group after we’d all finished the degree. We raised a few glasses of sparkling and it felt like we were marking the beginning of a very exciting chapter for all of us. It is such a fond memory, and I am proud of the huge success we have all had since.”

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Gusbourne. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.