Interview With The CEO Of Ridgeview Wine Estate

8th September 2023

Interview With The CEO Of Ridgeview Wine Estate

There is no denying that English Sparkling Wine is on the rise, becoming an undeniable contender to Champagne, and although it still has some way to go in convincing the rest of the world, to the English, it’s becoming a fan favourite and a go-to Glass of Bubbly, its quality is improving with each year and thanks to innovators and those willing to follow their dreams, the choice of English Sparkling Wine is expanding.

In this article we speak with Tamara Roberts, the CEO of Ridgeview Wine Estate, an English Winery located in Sussex, let’s discover a little about her time in the Wine Industry.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I always put a lot of energy into all areas of my life whether that be work, family or leisure. I don’t always get the balance between these right but I think that is hard for any CEO or business leader. I have two boys who are growing up fast and my husband also works with me at Ridgeview, as does my brother and sister-in-law. We live on site at the vineyard in Sussex so my weekends usually start with a long walk on the South Downs with my husband and our two dogs and end with a family meal after rugby matches in the winter (cricket takes over in the summer). In between we see friends, watch live music or sport and of course, enjoy a glass or two of wine. I love to cook but we have many fantastic independent restaurants and pubs in Brighton and nearby to the vineyard so there is always the option to eat out. I am also keen on sailing when the opportunity arises – more cruising than racing these days, however.”

How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?

“I have had a rather irregular but very fortunate journey into the wine industry. Ridgeview was founded by my parents in 1994 and by then I had already started my career in finance after having completed a degree in law followed by qualifying as a chartered accountant. I Joined Ridgeview in 2004 as general manager after a family decision to significantly expand our production based on the early success of our wines at competitions and with buyers and consumers. I worked closely with my father on developing the business for the following 10 years until he sadly passed away in 2014, just after I became CEO and my brother head winemaker. When I first joined we were producing around 50k bottles per annum and we are now close to ½ million. I have learnt an awful lot over the years and am delighted to have had my career path diverted into the wine industry.”

How Rewarding And Challenging Is Working As The CEO Of Ridgeview Wine Estate?

“Building Ridgeview into a leading brand within the English Wine community has been a real achievement for the family and I enjoy being in a position to ensure we lead in all the right areas – quality, sustainability, ethics and looking after our people. Winning awards for our wines at the top international competitions is of course hugely rewarding as is overseeing the expansion of our production through our fantastic partnership growers & investment into our facilities. Last year we launched our on-site restaurant, the Rows & Vine at Ridgeview, which has taken about three years to complete due to the inconvenience of the pandemic! I also love working collaboratively with other producers through my directorship at WineGB as together we can be far more effective than as individual brands in areas such as regulation, government lobbying and export opportunities.

As with any type of agriculture, the biggest challenge is the weather which, in a marginal growing region such as England, can have a significant impact on yields from year to year. In addition, much of the more recent challenges for the business have also been external – a pandemic and Brexit followed by a war creating a very challenging economic climate to navigate through. Our business is also rather complex despite being relatively small in the wine world. We make traditional method sparkling which is a lengthy, capital intensive process and also sell into the on and off trade, export markets, direct to the consumer as well as having our own hospitality on site and a wine club. We are also seeing many new entrants into the English Sparkling Wine category which of course increases competition.”

How Do You See The Future Of English Sparkling Wine?

“Exciting and challenging in equal measure. There is a real buzz around the category right now and provided we focus on sustaining our quality and invest in telling the stories of our brands and the importance of traditional method sparkling wines to our region we can hopefully avoid some of the challenges. The English wine industry is small and innovative and has relatively low barriers to entry so the emergence of other sparkling categories in the market is inevitable. We must also focus on sustainability as being such a young and innovative region we can (and should) be leaders in this area.

We are still a mere drop in the ocean with regards to sparkling wine production and it is the one wine category that is seeing global growth in terms of consumption rather than decline so the opportunity is there for the taking if we focus on our strengths as brands and as an industry.”

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

“Recently my husband and I travelled to Tuscany to celebrate a rather important birthday and I did enjoy a glass of bubbly in Piazza Michelangelo whilst overlooking the city of Florence on a sunny afternoon, a very memorable moment.”

Thank you Tamara, 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 Tamara Roberts. 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.