For the first time ever, England is to host a major technical international wine symposium. Over three days from 26 to 28 May 2016, just after the 2016 London wine-trade fair, the ninth International Cool Climate Wine Symposium will be held in Brighton on the south coast of England, a one-hour ride by frequent trains from London. The Symposium, to be held in the Metropole Hotel, will coincide with the 2016 Brighton Food Fair and it is intended to make this a thoroughly gastronomic event.
Those booking their tickets before the end of this month/year may take advantage of the earlybird discount of 20%, reducing the cost of a delegate's ticket from £600 to £500. This will include full access to all aspects of the Symposium – lectures, workshops, masterclasses and wine tastings – plus morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch for the duration of the conference. Single-day tickets are also available at £250.
Prime movers behind the Symposium were Chris Foss, head of the wine department at Plumpton College, Britain's leading centre of wine academe just outside Brighton, and the late Mike Roberts MBE of Ridgeview, who did so much to put English sparkling wine on the map. They successfully lobbied for this Symposium to be held in England at the last ICCWS in Tasmania in 2012 (FIFA was not involved). These Symposia are held every four years and I was lucky enough to attend the second one in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1988 as well as the one in Tasmania. I see this ninth symposium as celebrating and validating all the work that has gone into transforming the quality of English and Welsh wine over the past few decades.
Foss is still finalising the programme but has already assembled a compelling line-up of speakers and topical subjects of interest to any committed wine student or wine lover. Those who have confirmed their participation include Prof Dr Monika Christmann and Prof Dr Hans Schultz of Geisenheim, wine and climate-change guru Prof Gregory Jones of Oregon, Prof Kees van Leeuwen of Bordeaux University and Ch Cheval Blanc, one of the top authorities on Chinese wine Prof Dr Huiquin Ma, Dr Tony Proffitt and Dr Paul Henschke of Australia, Dr Pat Bowen of British Columbia, sensory evaluation specialist Professor Charles Spence, Willi Klinger of Austria, wine writers Oz Clarke and Dr Jamie Goode, and Masters of Wine Prof Steve Charters, Justin Howard-Sneyd, sparkling-wine specialist Essi Avellan and me.
In addition to presenting groundbreaking research on viticulture and oenology, the Symposium ogranisers are intent on ensuring that marketing, technology and sales are also covered in depth.
The bodies most closely involved in organising the Symposium are the United Kingdom Vineyards Association, the English Wine Producers, Plumpton College and the University of Brighton, and the Institute of Masters of Wine, which has form in organising international wine symposia itself, albeit slightly less technical ones. Britain's Wine and Spirits Association also advises.