Chris Foss, founder and manager of Plumpton Wine Division, is to retire at the end of this academic year after 31 years of service with the college.

Foss, who is half-French and Bordeaux-trained, started his career by managing the family vineyard in the Entre-Deux-Mers region and worked in Sauternes (Chateau d’Yquem) and St Emillion, before becoming winemaker for the GFA Leclerc vineyard group.

After this he returned to England and enrolled on a teacher-training course. He was later able to merge his two passions of wine and education when Plumpton College announced it planned to start a wine production programme.

The programme is now recognised as an international centre of excellence in wine training, education and research with a team of 12 specialists delivering courses to more than 100 undergraduates, 30 Master students and the English wine industry (through the WineSkills training initiative), plus a successful commercial wine brand, Plumpton Wine Estate, produced in Plumpton’s own 10-hectare vineyard.

Foss has also been Chairman of the South East Vineyards Association (SEVA) for 10 year, and he is Chair of the Wine GB Environmental Sustainability Workgroup and a Wine GB Southeast committee member. He is also a member of the Life+ ADVIClim research group, and led the team that designed the academic programme for the ninth international Cool Climate Wine Symposium, held in Brighton in May 2016.

Jeremy Kerswell, principle of Plumpton College, said: “Chris has literally been at the heart of everything to do with the incredible success of the college’s wine industry for over thirty years, and in that time has fully established us as one of the leading education and research centres globally. The work that Chris has led has undoubtedly been one of the drivers behind the success of the English and Welsh wine industry in recent years, with his graduates now employed all over the world.

“He leaves an incredible legacy, and a team and resource base we are only keen to invest in further to ensure we stay at the heart of the future of the industry.”

Foss intends to remain engaged post-retirement and will continue working in climate change and vineyard sustainability.