Chris Foss, founder and Manager of Plumpton Wine Division, will retire at the end of this academic year after 31 years of service with the college.
Starting at Plumpton in 1988, with two rows of vines and a few glass demijohns quietly fermenting away in his classroom, Foss has played a key part in the transformation of the English wine industry.
Half-French and Bordeaux-trained, Chris managed the family vineyard in the Entre-Deux-Mers and worked in Sauternes (Chateau d’Yquem) and St Emilion, before becoming Winemaker for the GFA Leclerc vineyard group. Seeking a career in the emerging English wine industry, he and his wife returned to England, where he enrolled on a teacher training course. His two passions (wine and education) came together when he learned that Plumpton College was thinking of starting a wine production programme. Today, it is recognised as an international centre of excellence in wine training, education and research, with a team of 12 specialists delivering unique courses to over 100 undergraduates, 30 Masters students, and the English wine industry (through the WineSkills training initiative), plus a successful commercial wine brand, Plumpton Wine Estate, produced in Plumpton’s own 10-hectare vineyard.
Throughout his career, Foss has continuously challenged and evolved his own principles and knowledge of the industry. Chairman of the South East Vineyards Association (SEVA) for 10 years, today he is the Chair of the WineGB Environmental Sustainability Workgroup and a Wine GB Southeast committee member. He also is a member of the Life+ ADVIClim research group, and led the team that designed the academic programme for the highly successful ninth International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, held in Brighton (UK) in May 2016.
“Chris has literally been at the heart of everything to do with the incredible success of the college’s wine industry for over thirty years, and in that time has fully established us as one of the leading education and research centres globally. The work that Chris has led has undoubtedly been one of the drivers behind the success of the English and Welsh wine industry in recent years, with his graduates now employed all over the world.
He leaves an incredible legacy, and a team and resource base we are only keen to invest in further to ensure we stay at the heart of the future of the industry.”
Foss intends to remain engaged post-retirement, and continue working in climate change and vineyard sustainability.
Chris will retire from Plumpton at the end of June 2019.