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Restaurant & Wine Director – The Vineyard
We love wine. That’s why we want it to be enjoyed by everyone. Our wine team is known for their warm and friendly approach, whether you’re happy with your favourite or on a mission to find The One that matches your mood. Discovery is everything; just ask Alan Holmes, our wine director. He’s won every award the wine world has to offer, and he’s still searching.
Ever since an early age, I have been interested in the catering industry. Initially it was being a chef in the kitchen that enticed me, however it was during my time at college that I fell in love with the service side and developed a particular passion for wine. Having grown up in the North of England, wine was not a regular drink of choice, so when I was suddenly introduced to all things vinous I was immediately captivated!
During my early days at Lancaster and Morecambe College, I was lucky enough to go on numerous wine tastings and a college exchange trip to Perpignan, before competing in regional food and wine service competitions.
It was through winning one of these, that I was offered my first experience of Relais and Chateaux with a scholarship at Hambleton Hall and a subsequent position at Sharrow Bay. Here I had the fortuitous chance to work with Stephen Wilcock MS who really set me on the path to becoming a professional sommelier.
After 2 great years I moved back to my roots in Lancashire to work for Paul Heathcote at his eponymous 2 Michelin starred Longridge Restaurant, as this was the perfect opportunity to develop not only my wine skills, but also my managerial experience as I progressed from Assistant Sommelier to Restaurant Manager in 4 years. During my time here I was successful in winning the UK Sommelier of the Year in 1999 and being awarded an Acorn award from The Caterer and Hotelkeeper.
In 2001 I was approached by Marcus Wareing to take over as Head sommelier at Petrus in St James St, London before moving it to The Berkeley Hotel where it is now known as Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley Hotel. This fantastic position gave me an opportunity to buy, serve and taste some of the world’s most amazing wines and vintages.
By 2004 it was time to move into a more managerial role and Chewton Glen beckoned. This famous hotel has a long tradition of wine excellence with Gerard Basset being one of its best known previous sommeliers. Eight happy years were spent developing my management style, while still maintaining my contact with wines. Other awards and accolades followed when I was selected to represent the UK in the European Sommelier of the Year competition 2008 and the Wines of South Africa Sommelier World Cup 2010.
After 8 years a move was again on the cards, and after a brief phone call and rapid interview process I was tempted to join The Vineyard, a hotel that I have long admired and visited in the past. Its amazing wine list of 3,000 wines was just too huge a temptation to resist and so the story continues…
In my spare time I enjoy life in the great outdoors, be it walking with my partner, gardening, fishing, cycling or just spending time in the kitchen cooking whenever I can. However with wine, travel is always likely at some point and recent visits to Canada and California have proven highly educational.