Meet our Technical Winemaker, Liz Morgan

Is there a more exciting place to work right now than English wine? Driven by innovation, passion and a pioneering spirit, our wines are taking the world by storm. The English wine industry is full of talented, welcoming individuals achieving incredible things through their career in wine, like our Technical Winemaker, Liz Morgan. 

Liz plays an essential role in our winery team, bringing state-of-the-art scientific rigour to the ancient art of winemaking. We caught up with Liz to explore how she started her career in wine, and what makes Ridgeview a special place to work.


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Winemaking at Ridgeview

What role does lab work play in winemaking at Ridgeview?

So the work we do in the lab informs many decisions made through the winemaking process. Our data is really there to deliver some precision, about our grapes, the juice that comes out of them and how it progresses through the various stages of becoming wine. It’s maybe not as visible or as cool as the head winemaker job, which comes wrapped up with the more romantic side of winemaking, but it’s a critical part of the process!

Where does the technical expertise for your role come from?

My first degree was biochemistry, years ago in Sheffield. And I worked for 15 years in biotech research in the pharmaceutical industry after that.

Did you always want to work in the world of science?

Right back to school I always thought STEM subjects were the most interesting. You know how it is – you just have an affinity with some things more than others, and it was definitely science that interested me. Biology was my favourite, followed by chemistry. 

 Also, my mum used to work in a hospital lab, so I always had a notion that labs existed and that my mum wore a white coat. Maybe that tweaked me in this direction. I just genuinely found it super interesting, which is why I went to uni and did biochemistry, it seemed like the perfect subject to study. 

How did you make the leap into your career in wine?

I was working in Edinburgh for a stem cell research company, and I decided that although I found the subject fascinating, I needed to get out and try something different. So I got a working holiday visa to New Zealand and, backpacking round that country, vineyard work is what you stumble across. I ended up working in a little family-run vineyard in Nelson. It got to vintage time and I was in the winery, and I started thinking ‘this is really interesting’. 

After I came back to the UK, I did a bit of research and discovered Plumpton College offered wine degrees. At that point I thought ‘well, I don’t have anything to lose here’. So I went through Plumpton part-time, which was when I started my first stint at Ridgeview.

So you were a winemaker before you became a Technical Winemaker?

Yes. I started out working part-time at Ridgeview as a cellar hand on the 2010 and 2011 vintages, then got a position as Assistant Winemaker at another English winery where I stayed for eight years. In 2020, I came back to Ridgeview as Lab Manager and was able to progress into the Technical Winemaker role thanks to the winemaking experience I have.

How has your role evolved since you came back to Ridgeview?

I originally came back as Lab Manager but soon moved to the Technical Winemaker role – it was a great fit for me. I get to do more than just run the lab and do the analysis. I’m also interpreting those results and actioning things accordingly, which is really cool because it means I’m still using all my winemaking experience, with the day-to-day focus on running the lab. And I’m very much part of the winery team, even though I’m doing quite a specific job within it. I really enjoy that sense of teamwork.

What makes a good Technical Winemaker?

It’s important to me that the results that the lab is generating are extremely high quality and consistent. That’s the real driver behind what I do – it’s all about delivering precision to inform winemaking decisions. You need to be super organised, high attention to detail, all those things. And I guess that from my scientific past, that’s what drives me to make sure that the lab is running to the absolute best that it can. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like that each day can be quite different. The winemaking year is very subdivided and the excitement of vintage is still a highlight of the year. What I didn’t get when I was working in research is going through that process each year – the buzz of harvest, right through to having bottled all of this wine. There’s a product at the end of it. Plus I get to come to work somewhere like this each day. 

What keeps you coming to work every day?

Well, Ridgeview is a pretty special place to be. You try not to take it for granted, because eventually you can stop looking at the vineyard as you park the car and walk in. But I still do pinch myself. I didn’t think I’d come back here after I’d been away for all those years. It’s always been an aspirational place to work. It feels like we’re at the forefront of everything.

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