Roy had a wide and varied career before settling on English Wine as his ‘mission’ in life. He travelled widely on the Continent, Morocco, USA and Western Austalia including spending 10 years in Germany, where he not only learned the language but also met his wife and partner Irma with whom he created, and still manages, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard in Sussex.
His farming roots go back to Benenden, near Cranbrook, in Kent where he was born and raised on a small family dairy farm through the 1950’s and early 1960’s acquiring many of the practical farming skills, such as tractor driving, fencing and the enjoyment of the countryside which he later applied in his vineyard.
An honours degree in psychology and philosophy at University College, Cardiff as a mature student in the 1970’s (after financing himself through O-levels and A-levels in Woolwich, London) may not have contributed directly to his vineyard skills but it was there that his love of the countryside and wildlife were reinforced and turned into a passion for the environment. Through his study of the Philosophy of Social and World Problems, in particular, he was brought into contact with issues of the day such as factory farming, farm pollution of waterways, and the general industrialisation of the countryside. It was here that the seeds of disquiet about the existing system were sown.
After leaving Cardiff he was briefly a member of the Rye branch of Friends of the Earth in the late 1970’s whose motto, which they had printed onto their t-shirts, was ‘Take Care of your bit of World’. A message which Roy took forward into his vineyard career which started in 1979 when he planted the first vines at England’s oldest organic vineyard at Sedlescombe.
The first real proof that organics was perhaps a workable system came during the 1970’s when he began an organic vegetable garden on the site at Sedlescombe. Somewhat amazed that crops could be produced without the barrage of chemical fertilizers and sprays that most gardening books at the time advocated, Roy became a competent gardener and also an amateur wine maker, producing a variety of fruit and vegetable based wines. Apparently, one such wine made from Pea-pods became quite a hit with some of his friends in Germany, where he taught English as a foreign language.
Roy’s knowledge of growing grapes in England and making English wines is largely based on 30+ years practical experience in the field. This in turn is based on his reading around all aspects of the subject in the German language - from the practical handbooks written for wine growers in Germany to the twice monthly ‘Deutsche Weinmagazin’ with its up-to-the-minute articles on all aspects of growing, making and marketing wines.
For more about Roy as an organic wine consultant see http://www.organicwineconsultant.com/