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Plumpton College Queen’s Anniversary Prize

Published:  17 November, 2023

Plumpton College has been awarded the highest National Honour in education, a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work in wine education and wider impact on the English and Welsh wine sector.

Granted every two years by the reigning monarch, the prizes celebrate excellence, innovation and benefit for the wider world in further and higher education. Chair of governors Julie Dougill and principal Jeremy Kerswell attended an event at St James’s Palace by invitation of His Majesty the King on Thursday (16 November), where the prizes were officially announced by the Royal Anniversary Trust.

The prize recognises the work of Plumpton College as the key innovator and developer of industry-led training and education programmes supporting growth and sustainability of the English wine industry, since it was founded in 1985.

Principal Jeremy Kerswell said: “I am delighted to accept this most prestigious award, not only on behalf of Plumpton College, but for all those who have been part of this journey and those who continue to shape our curriculum today. It’s a story that has been 40 years in the making, but is now more important than ever before. Plumpton College continues to meet the needs of the industry by providing sector-leading graduates, with the right skills for sustained growth within the UK’s wine sector and beyond through our vast alumni network.”

Since its inception, Plumpton has grown from foundation and degree programmes to offering broader programmes, including Master’s, industry CPD and more recently introductory-level wine academies and apprenticeships.

Ground-breaking work in the late 1980s and 1990s helped professionalise the industry at a time when it was struggling to produce the quality of wine that could compete in an international market. In 2006, a period of rapid expansion occurred due to an increasing need for economic diversification on land estates, changing weather patterns favouring grape ripening and an economic push to increase product exports whilst reducing imports.

In 2023, the college has become known as a breeding ground for young talent to test their abilities and knowledge in the classroom and in Plumpton’s own vineyards, with graduates going on to create much of the English sparkling and still wine market we know today. Currently, over 95% of wineries and vineyards across the UK employ staff who have been trained and educated at the college.

Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB offered her congratulations, pointing out that: “Plumpton has contributed significantly to the development of the UK wine industry over the last few decades through training, education and knowledge. Their graduates make up many of the business owners, winemakers and viticulturists who drive the work of WineGB. As one of the fastest growing agriculture sectors in the UK today, our wine industry offers an extensive and diverse range of highly skilled career opportunities. We considerably value our partnership with Plumpton to help shape the future of our member’s teams.”

Sam Linter, director of Plumpton Wine Division, added: “This is a very proud moment for all of us who are and have been involved with the development of Plumpton Wine Division. The culmination of more than 35 years as the UK’s centre of excellence in wine education, research and training has been the driving force to lead us to this incredible point in contributing and supporting this innovative and progressive industry.”