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Five minutes with Alex Brogan, Plumpton student

Published:  30 August, 2022

Jo Gilbert catches up with Alex Brogan about his collective winemaking venture, where customers can vote on every step of the winemaking process.

It’s very rare for an established winery to allow two first-year students to make wine. So, my fellow student, Manuel Cerdeira, and I had to come up with a concept that provided zero risk. Thus, Not Yet Named Wine Co was born. This concept was born out of necessity – it allows us to get the cash upfront so we can buy the grapes and rent the equipment immediately. But the best part is that our customers get to vote on the wine.

The idea is that people buy the wine now, in advance of it being made – almost like a pre-en-primeur campaign. In exchange, members get the chance to vote on every big winemaking decision as it comes along.

The final product will be an Alvarinho, as it’s a partnership with Alvarinho specialist Quinta de Soalheiro. But as styles of the grape can be so varied, the public will take the wine in whichever direction they decide. For example, they could choose the sweet vanilla spice that comes from ageing in oak barrels; or they might prefer that the wine keeps its fruit flavours from being kept in stainless steel tanks. Whatever happens, we will honour the outcome of the vote.

Our customers have to pay now (a minimum of six bottles per purchase) and won’t receive any wine for at least nine months. So we know we need to give them something spectacular in return.

It’s a great feeling to be able to say you’ve designed a wine, and maybe even created a little community of wine-loving people.

Top photo shows Plumpton students Alex Brogan and Manuel Cerdeira working on their joint project