Thursday, 04 April 2024 13:25

Vintners Guild

Written by  Staff Reporters

This September Toby Buck hopes to drive a herd of sheep over the Thames, tapping into one of the entitlements of being a Freeman of London in the Vintners Company.

"I feel somewhat obligated as a Kiwi," he says a few weeks after joining the guild, as the first New Zealander in its 660-year history. The Vintners Guild was founded in 1363, as one of the 12 Great Livery Companies of London. It created the WSET and the Institute of Masters of Wine, "and have really stuck around because of their charitable works, constantly updating themselves while remaining true to their aims", Toby says, fascinated by the age of the organisation. "Sophistication and continuity are always interesting ideas in wine."

Having a New Zealander in the company is valuable, he says, "since the world that defines the Vintners Guild is fine wine, and global wine trade and wine culture... Having a New Zealander in that room and having the quality of New Zealand wine acknowledged in that room, is something of value. It's a mark of recognition." Traditionally, joining the Vintners Company occurred via patrimony, restricted to those whose father or grandfather was a member. "Now, they are a much more inclusive place, but this is the first time they've allowed outsiders like me in," Toby says. "In my group of 40 joining, I'm one of only four on the Vintners' Trade Entry Scheme for people in the industry."

Toby's wine career started when he was five years old, working at his family's Te Mata winery to pitchfork stalks into a bin as they flew out of the de-stemmer. He'd cleaned plenty of tanks and gutters, pruned and planted plenty of vines, and bottled, labelled and packaged plenty of wine, before starting work at the cellar door, and eventually representing the wines abroad. At times the guild, with its "incredible" buildings, collections, and traditions, "does seem a very long way from Hawke's Bay and vineyard life", he says. Not to mention herding sheep across the Thames.

More like this

Top Wineries of New Zealand

Bannockburn producer Felton Road has been named Winery of the Year New Zealand 2024 by The Real Review, a list compiled by New Zealand wine critics Bob Campbell MW, Huon Hooke, and Stephen Wong MW.

Dam Safety

The new Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2022 came into force in May, covering dams of a certain height and volume threshold.

Magical Mycorrhizae

When Molly Callaghan first started talking to winegrowers about mycorrhizal fungi, she was asked where she parked the spaceship.

Safeguarding Marlborough

Appellation Marlborough Wine has tightened its certification criteria, putting in place minimum brix at harvest and new geographical boundaries for wines wearing the AMW icon.

Science leader at helm

The new Chief Executive of Bragato Research Institute brings "a wealth of experience in research and innovation", says BRI Chair Mark Gilbert.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Popular Reads

Sustainability Success

Taking two sustainability awards at two events on a single evening felt like "true recognition" of the work Lawson's Dry…

Stellar support for Cropsy

New Zealand-based agritech startup Cropsy Technologies has raised $1.7 million in an extended and oversubscribed capital raise, including support from…

H2Ortigator - the plant babysitter

A New Zealand startup is offering a novel approach to irrigation and nutrition management, specifically designed to optimise the growth…