Posted on April 28th, 2011
Back in September, Eamon FitzGerald, My Grape Escape author, gave a great account of himself. Since then, he has left the corporate consulting life behind him and landed a plum job with Decanter magazine.
1 . So you left a great job to do what? Is that what your Dad asked you?
Three years of Accenture was more than enough. It was a good starting point after college and I certainly learned how to be professional, polished and “client-facing”. I also learned new phrases like ‘reach out’ (which means to contact), ‘lock down’ (commit), and ‘close-of-business’ (midnight).
Luckily I got posted to London for the last 6 months of my tenure, and numerous tastings and trips later I had the wine bug.
The opportunity with Decanter was a no-brainer, despite the significant drop in pay. I’ve curbed my Amazon addiction and have been coping just fine.
2. Is the new gig the dream job?
I’m really enjoying it. I’m handling the operations and marketing of the Decanter World Wine Awards, a wine competition in its 7th year. This year we did really well and reached 12,400 entries, making it the largest wine competition in the world.
A couple of weeks ago, Judging Week took place in The Worx, a photography studio in Parson’s Green in West London.
We had over 200 judges flown in from all over the world, including 58 MW’s and 15 MS’s.
The buzz was unbelievable, and my jobs ranged from overseeing regional tastings, running Twitter and Facebook for the DWWA, and fixing Steven Spurrier’s computer.
I was somewhat horrified at the condition of many judges’ teeth. As a result I am already bracing myself for the gradual disintegration of my own if I stick with the wine gig long-term.
Chillingly, the paint on the surface of the drain (where all the excess wine is poured down) erodes away with the acid in the wine as the week goes on, and needs a new coat after each judging week.
3. What wines have you tried that have impressed?
In general, I’m becoming a fan of English wine (sorry Dad) and am passionate about supporting a local industry to where I live.
Climate-change permitting, red grapes struggle to ripen in this country, but some fabulous rosés are becoming available. I tasted some fantastic whites from the Bacchus grape, and of course English sparking wine holds its own on any international stage.
Last week I tried wines from China, Thailand and India, which all won medals in the competition last week for the first time. Encouraging signs for these emerging wine regions.
4. Any other perks to the job?
No more ‘Sunday fear’! Working in a job which I am genuinely happy and passionate about is a totally new feeling, and I feel lucky to be able to say this. I would encourage – no, beg – others to make a similar move!
Pre-tasting wines for the great Steven Spurrier is a regular highlight, just don’t ask him about Bottle Shock.
The opportunity to sit in on masterclasses and learn from industry legends such as Gerard Basset MS, John Radford and Peter McCombie MW is a real treat.
And working with the DWWA team and the gregarious Sarah Kemp (the Publisher of Decanter) is an absolute pleasure.
Thanks Eamon, and if you need any support with the pre-tastings, I’m happy to lend a hand.