Meet the Producers
Kevin and Laurence Sutherland
Bluebell Vineyard, East Sussex
Originally from New Zealand, Kevin Sutherland moved to the UK in 1988 and began teaching at Plumpton College two years later. He joined Bluebell Vineyard in 2004, initially advising the owners on the viability of land for viticulture. After the initial 4ha of vines were planted under his guidance, the vineyard now has around 100ha under vine.
Kevin is married to Sarah Midgley, a Winemaker and Wine Lecturer at Plumpton College. Kevin, now Head Winemaker at Bluebell, has been joined by his son Laurence, who is now Assistant Winemaker.
What is it like working together?
Kevin: It is great working together, having Laurence around and watching him develop his skills. It’s wonderful having him with me and getting to talk more.
Laurence: My Dad and I are fortunate to have the chance to work alongside one another. We have an ease of communication and very similar work ethics which enables us to constantly improve and develop our wines. I’m very grateful to be in the position I am!
What is the best thing about working with your son?
Kevin: A big positive is getting to spend more time with him. We talk all day about the vineyard, winery and life. It’s been enjoyable watching Laurence develop his skill and understanding of the vineyard and winemaking. Particularly watching him expressing himself in the winemaking side of things and tastings.
More recently, bringing my youngest, Elliott, over to the winery to enjoy the fun. He especially loves smelling and tasting the juices.
What have you learnt from your father and how has he inspired you?
Laurence: There is a very long list of what I have come to learn in the past half decade. Every aspect of vineyard management, winery/lab and final production has been thrusted upon me, which has imbued mountains of knowledge, skills and perspective.
My father is a huge inspiration: to leave New Zealand and start from nothing and become a respected member of his chosen profession demonstrates to me what hard work, dedication and pursuit of your passion can achieve.
What is it like working together in business?
Laurence: At times stressful like any father-son relationship, however, a vast majority of the time it is bliss. I think our communication and trust in one another is second to none. This allows us to constantly improve our wines and relationship.