Interview with Production Manager At Digby Fine English – Daan Tant

7th July 2023

Interview With A Cellar Supervisor Daan Tant

The Wine Industry is made up of an army of talented individuals, from the winemaker to the vineyard manager, and from the cellar master to the brand ambassador, each as passionate as the next in delivering the finest expressions from the grapes to the customers, this series of interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the people passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this article we speak with Daan Tant, the Production Manager at Digby Fine English, let’s discover a little about his time in the Wine Industry.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I come from a little village in Belgium, between Ghent and Bruges. My father is a booking agent for national and international artists so I grew up listening to great music, and attending a lot of gigs over the summer holidays. We also shared a great love for food and travel in our household, which sparked my interest in the culinary world and experiencing cultures. My early twenties were spent working in a range of different jobs so I could travel and broaden my horizons. When I turned 25, my focus changed to building a career and I enrolled in a Culinary Arts course in Bruges. The journey I’ve been on since has taken me to different countries and working with an array of producers in the food and wine industry. Enrolling at Plumpton College in 2019 for the BSc (Hons) Viticulture & Oenology course felt like the logical next step. With my previous experience in production settings, I decided to focus on the later stages of sparkling wine production.”

How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?

“While I was studying in Bruges, we had a visit from Pascal Marchand of négociant Winehouse “Maison Marchand-Tawse”. He spoke very passionately about Burgundy and its unique characteristics, and the wines he brought along were exemplary. What changed me then and there was that he spoke of wine being able to contain emotion and tension. He then invited us to join the harvest at Domaine Tawse, an opportunity I gladly took. I have since worked three harvests with them, toiling in their Premier and Grand Cru vineyards, and assisting at the crush pad near the winery to ensure only the highest quality of fruit makes its way into the fermentation vats. The vintage placement, which is part of the final year of the Plumpton College course, was an unforgettable experience. I worked closely with the winemakers there and saw the full harvest production process. We would taste each fermenting must every morning and discuss what it would require for them to grow to their full potential.”

What Is The Main Responsibility of An Assistant Cellar Supervisor?

“An Assistant Cellar Supervisor oversees the processes during the later stages of sparkling wine production. After the wine is bottled, it will rest on its lees for several years. Managing the inventory is a constant job as we take out inventory to be riddled and prepared for sale. The logistics of moving the product through every stage of the production process are not to be underestimated and require precision forklift operation. Correct data keeping along the process is required to ensure no stock is lost, and that consumables (items required such as corks, foils, and labels) are in stock and ordered in time. A high level of interpersonal communication skills is required to effectively communicate with the winery manager and their team, as well as contract clients. Some of our clients are high-end retailers and supermarkets who set very strict criteria and production goals.”

As An Assistant Cellar Supervisor, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome?

“The operation of the labelling and disgorging lines is a challenging part of the job. From maintaining the machines to operating their settings to constant quality control during a production run. There are a lot of intricacies to ensuring these processes are delivered in a consistent and qualitative manner. Operating in a quickly growing wine industry, the support structure and services are not yet in place to efficiently repair a machine if it breaks down. Long lead times and custom checks when importing spare parts from Europe are problematic. Building your mechanical knowledge and being able to problem solve are valuable skills in this line of work.”

What’s The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learnt?

“The most surprising thing I’ve learnt is just how exciting it is to be in a fledgling wine industry that is now starting to experience the perfect climate for the production of quality wine grapes. Working the past vintage was an amazing experience as people from different backgrounds and countries are drawn to working in the wine industry here. The cultural amalgamation that grows, especially when working a high yielding vintage such as 2021 creates unforgettable bonds and strengthens the industry for the future.”

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

“It must be in Burgundy. In 2021 when we finished the bulk of the harvest, we decorated the wineries’ trucks and cars with vine leaves and branches and drove through the village of Nuits-Saint-Georges while honking our horns, much to the locals’ and tourists’ joy. Then we returned to the winery for a glass of Maison Marchand-Tawse’s Crémant de Bourgogne Brut. This was followed by a nice lunch and, of course, a big harvest celebration called “La Paulée”!”

Thank you Daan, 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 Daan Tant. 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.