Wine making and tasting weekender with Justin Howard-Sneyd

Ref: SWE33102

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Places available

About this course

An immersive wine and winemaking course that covers a basic knowledge of wine tasting, how your palate works, grape-growing, winemaking, blending and bottling. The course offers the chance to try out some of the practical steps on a small scale, and see how it scales up in a working winery.

Course Description

This course is aimed at wine enjoyers who would like to extend their appreciation and knowledge of wine through a deeper understanding of how wine is grown and made.

No knowledge at all is required to take the course, although a prexisting enjoyment of wine is desirable. While most people coming on the course will be curious wine-drinkers wanting to deepen their knowledge and enjoyment. But it would also be very suitable for anyone considering a change of career, or starting a winemaking project, who might consider this course as a first step towards understanding what is involved. Winemaking involves a lot of science and detail, and this weekend course will only touch on the basics, but would provide a great overview.

The first evening will focus on teaching the basics of wine tasting, how our palates work, exploring different palate sensitivities and tasting a handful of benchmark examples. An informal ‘Bring-a-bottle’ dinner is followed with conversation continuing after dinner.

Saturday is hosted at a local vineyard and winery, where we will learn about how grapes are grown, the basic of red, white, rosé and sparkling winemaking, and we will crush some grapes, make some juice, mix up some yeast, and then hand disgorge our own bottle of sparkling wine. We then return to West Dean for a gala dinner with wine selected by the tutor in the historic Old Dining Room.

Sunday is spent catching up on sweet and fortified wine, ageing, blending, bottling, storage and serving wine, and we’ll design the label for our self-disgorged UK sparkling wine to take home to our family and friends.

Participants will go home having enjoyed a convivial and informative weekend, and having had wine and winemaking brought to life for them in a memorable and engaging way.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course all necessary equipment will be supplied for use on the course, with transport to and from the winery on Saturday, plus wine at the Gala dinner on Saturday.

What students need to bring

  • Clothes that are suitable to get dirty / stained (and something smarter for the Gala dinner if you wish!)
  • Waterproof top in case of rain, and outdoor clothing suitable for the time of year
  • Wellies / boots for potentially muddy fields
  • A bottle of wine you enjoy drinking for the pre-dinner tasting session on the first evening.

Additional information

The College will arrange transport to and from the local vineyard visited on Saturday. Non-resident students are advised to book a taxi home on Friday and Saturday after the wine-tasting sessions. Alternatively please book accommodation in advance at the College. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). Possible equipment restrictions in tutor absence.


Justin Howard-Sneyd

Justin is a Master of Wine based in the UK. He consults to a wide range of businesses, helping them with wine selection and commercial performance.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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