Wiston Estate – Winemaker Interview – Marcus Rayner-Ward

10th June 2024

Wiston Estate Winemaker Marcus Rayner-Ward

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 Marcus Rayner-Ward, an amazing Winemaker at Wiston Estate in West Sussex, England, let’s discover a little about his time in the English Wine Industry.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Marcus, Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself & How You Became Involved In The Wine Industry?

“Hey, Oliver. Thanks so much for reaching out. I came to the wine industry through the film industry and dreams of being a famous rock drummer. After the financial crash in 2008, I ended up running a pub in West London and doing WSET courses. I loved the courses but detested running a pub, so took myself off to Hawkes Bay in New Zealand for a 5 month harvest, where I was bitten by the wine bug. I came back and spent some time in retail, before deciding to enrol at Plumpton on the BSc course in 2015. I spent 2 years in English vineyards learning the ropes and completed a vintage at Esporao in Portugal. I started at Wiston just before graduation in 2018, where I cut my teeth with disgorging and labelling, then running into the winery to learn all I could, about how to make sparkling wine.”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“I’d say my 1st experience with sparkling wine was like most. A little too much during a party when not at the age to appreciate or remember it fully.”

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

“For me, it’s working with people and nature. Always learning and being challenged. Every year is different and you have to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances.”

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

“Like anyone in marginal cool climate zones, I would say growing clean healthy grapes that can ripen and yield with consistency. When the vineyard team deliver great fruit, you know you’re in for some great wines.”

When It Comes To Pairing Sparkling Wine With Food, Do You Have Any Favourite Combinations That You Would Personally Recommend?

“I love it with desserts. An aged Blanc de Noirs with orchard fruit frangipane or a Blanc de Blancs with lemon tart or creme brulee. The acidity cuts through the sweetness and then is complimented by all of the pastry and caramelised aromas and flavours.”

Can You Share With Us One Of The Most Memorable Experiences You’ve Enjoyed With A Glass of Bubbly?

“There are 2 wines that stand out. First, the day I found out I had been successful in gaining the job at Wiston in May 2018. I’d just handed in my last Plumpton assignment. I went out and bought a bottle of Wiston Blanc de Blanc 2010. It changed my view on English Sparkling Wine. Needless to say, I finished the bottle!! Second is the bottle I bought when I proposed to my wife – Jaquesson 737 degorgement tardif. This changed my view of Champagne and paired perfectly with ‘Yes’!”

Thank you Marcus, for sharing your story and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Photo Credit belongs to Marcus Rayner-Ward & Wiston Estate. 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.