Interview With The Winemaker At Highweald Wine Estate – Colm Evans

19th April 2024

Interview The Winemaker At Highweald Wine Estate Colm Evans

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the extraordinary 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 Colm Evans, an amazing Winemaker from England, currently working at Highweald Wine Estate, let’s discover a little about his time in the English Wine Industry.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Colm, Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself?

“Born in Northern Ireland and brought up in South Wales, I’m part of the Celtic clan within the English Wine trade. Entering the wine trade was the best decision I have made, not only did it give me a golden ticket to travel the globe and learn my trade, but whilst at Plumpton I met my beautiful fiancée Pandora, who was also studying for her degree in Wine Business at the time. And the rest is history…”

How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?

“A change from Chemistry laboratory to winemaking was introduced to me by my brother who formed a business in Vineyard Establishment and Maintenance using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which led me towards Plumpton College where I completed my BSc in Viticulture and Oenology.

I then travelled around the globe to gain experience from a diverse set of climates and winemaking styles, leading me from the UK to New Zealand, California, Western Australia and Bordeaux before returning to the UK. Once back on home soil, I also spent 4 years as a Vineyard Manager to encompass the full process from vine to glass.

I joined Highweald Wine Estate back in 2021 as Winemaker, where I have been given the very rare opportunity to help set a winery up from scratch and have been lucky enough to work alongside our Vineyard Manager Charlie Conrath, who has year on year brought in healthy and high-quality fruit into the winery.”

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

“I would have to say climate change and environmental disasters. Forest fires in California, earthquakes and flooding in New Zealand, the extremities and variability of weather now in the UK. All these events, cause a winemaker to adapt and change to make top quality wines from every parcel fruit that is received and not just follow a recipe year after year.”

How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?

“With regular tastings to chart out the evolution of the wine. This helps us build a picture of how the wine is doing and when to move on to the next steps throughout its development. Our Brut NV stays on lees for a minimum of 24 months, whereas we have a Blanc de Blancs and a Blanc de Noirs that may stay on lees for between 4-6 years depending on how they evolve. It’s all about patience and waiting for when the wine is ready.”

How Do You See The Future Of English Sparkling Wine?

“I believe that there are exciting times ahead for the English Sparkling Wine trade. With increasing consumer awareness and the ability to try new methods or winemaking styles, we are allowed to be a little more creative with the process compared to other wine producing areas, which are bound to very strict laws and legislation. Winemakers across the UK wine trade are well trained and have collectively increased the quality of their wines year on year.”

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

“For me, it has to be harvest. I love the hustle and bustle that harvest brings to the winery. It’s a really exciting time of the year where all of the hard work done out in the vineyard comes through and we have the opportunity to transform that into something special in the winery.

A close second is blending, where we have a chance to pull together all the separate components together to form our signature ranges and other little projects, which will see the light in years to come.”

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

“It was in California, where we celebrated the start of harvest by opening several bottles ‘Formula 1 style’, spraying everyone and covering the first fruit brought into the winery and managing to get a drop for ourselves. They were a great team and in a beautiful spot in Paso Robles. I will never forget it.”

Thank you Colm, 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 Colm Evans. 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.