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First-class fizz

Posted 8 May

“On returning to Harper for my final year, I went to see principle lecturer Dr Izzy Warren Smith. I was delighted to have found a tutor who shared my enthusiasm for the topic."

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BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management graduate Joanna Blakely’s final year dissertation focused on the growing English viticulture industry. She spent her placement year based with Savills in Kent where the idea was sparked to look further into the topic area for her dissertation.

Joanna Blakely, 22, from Hampshire, said: “Having grown up in South East England I have witnessed the significant increase in land being planted with vines, particularly over the more recent years. I have always been interested in diversified uses of land and the idea of growing grapes and making wine in England has always fascinated me.

“I specifically chose to be based in South East England for my placement year in the hope of being able to gain a greater insight into the English viticulture industry.

“While on placement I witnessed a surge of interest in people interested in growing vines but I found there to still be limited research on the industry.

“On returning to Harper for my final year, I went to see principal lecturer Dr Izzy Warren Smith. I was delighted to have found a tutor who shared my enthusiasm for the topic.

“When doing my literature review, I found previous research from 1985 and 2002 which investigated vine growers in England and Wales. The 2002 research used the same method as those used in the 1985 piece, and therefore changes could be observed between the two.

“Since the 2002 study, no one had investigated vine growers so there was a huge research gap. As a result, I focused my research on looking at vine growers in South East England and their demographic and background characteristics, decision making factors influencing their choice to grow vines and their attitudes towards the English viticulture and winemaking industry. I used similar data analysis techniques to be able to highlight changes in the industry since the 1985 and 2002 research.

“The results of my dissertation showed that there is a recognisable typology of vine growers in South East England and highlighted the different background characteristics, motives and attitudes between them.

“My research found that the viticulture industry has shown strong, positive signs of growth with great opportunity for the future. It found that new entrants would benefit the industry by increasing the pool of resources and knowledge that could be shared among producers.

“What really amazed me during the process of research was how the vine growers, who are busy people, were more than happy to take the time to show me around their vineyard and answer questions that I had. I think that really shows the enthusiasm and passion within the industry and reflects the desire to share knowledge in order to contribute to strong industry growth.

“Studying at Harper and the placement year provided me with great experience that has allowed me to gain a graduate position with Savills. The information and knowledge I gained from my dissertation has put me in a great position to be able to bring specialist knowledge back to the Savills viticulture team.

“My dissertation was the start of, hopefully, a successful career in land management and specialising in viticulture.”

Joanna now works as a graduate rural surveyor working in rural management for Savills. She can be contacted in regards to Savills viticulture team here.

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