Interview With Head Winemaker At Chapel Down – Josh Donaghay Spire
14th July 2023
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 Josh Donaghay Spire, the incredible Head Winemaker at Chapel Down in Kent, England, let’s discover a little about his time in the English Wine Industry.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I’ve been working at Chapel Down for 13 years now and love being involved in our wines from start to finish, it gives me a great sense of pride to be a part of the team which expresses the Kent countryside in a way that we all love. Prior to Chapel Down, I worked in South Africa, Ridgeview, Wiston Estate and Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace whilst I was completing my studies. After that, I was working in Champagne when the opportunity came up at Chapel Down. Having been born in Kent it was always my plan to return and be a part of the birth of this most exciting wine region.”
How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?
“In my teens, I worked in a wine bar which gave me great exposure to different styles. This led me to pursue a WSET qualification and a couple of years at Vinopolis. I love how the combination of stories, history, geology, climate and people make up great wines. It was when I was working at Vinopolis that I realised that I wanted to understand the science behind the label and be a part of the story behind a wine.”
As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?
“In such a fast growing wine region with such a high level of optimism and customer confidence, we tend not to see too many obstacles. Of course, there are challenges in terms of certain vintages, but these are learning opportunities which mean we are able to make better wines from better vineyards.”
How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?
“Our traditional method sparkling wines require time and patience to develop the flavours we require. Our Brut NV spends 18 months on lees whereas our single vineyard Kits Coty Blanc de Blancs can be up to six years. Knowing what this window is required tasting and building up an understanding of the land/terroir of which we are custodians.”
What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?
“Harvest is a really exciting time of the year where a team is formed each of whom brings experiences from winemaking around the world. It is the culmination of the year’s work in the vineyard and the beginning of the year’s work in the winery. It is the first opportunity to really understand the potential quality of new vineyards and also to get excited about the quality of wines we’ll be selling for years to come.”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“Blanc de Blanc from the Kent Downs with Kentish Oysters on Whitstable beach, the perfect wine-food-place match.”
Thank you Josh, 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 Chapel Down and Josh Donaghay Spire. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.