News - NMIT viticulture graduate follows his nose overseas
6 August 2012
A love of wine has taken NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) graduate Sam Cook halfway around the world. After completing his Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking degree at the institute's Epping Campus in 2010, Sam has now found success with a boutiquewine merchant in London.
Sam's interest in the field was sparked by an earlier trip to Europe where he was exposed to some of the region's best wines. When he returned to Australia he found himself voraciously reading wine textbooks and learning about grape varieties and regions. He soon realised wine didn't just have to be an interest - it could be a career. “I've always had a strong passion for science and also loved the idea of doing something where I could be creative and work with a product from start to finish. When found out how hands-on NMIT's degree was I thought 'This is a course I can get enthused about.'”
Sam says course highlights included the staff, the practical focus, vintage break (working on vineyards during school holidays), industry exposure and student trips. But the best part, he says, was the opportunity to produce his own wines.
“Alistair Reed, one of my mentors and head of program during my studies, created the NMIT Student Wine Awards. Each student was allocated a small batch of grapes and produced their own wine for the awards. Both my entries won on the night. My second wine, made under the guidance of teacher Robert Paul, was also entered into the Canberra International Wine Challenge and was awarded a silver medal.”
After finishing his degree Sam continued to work with Mario Marson of Vinea Marson in Heathcote, who he'd had been working with for the previous two years. He moved to London in 2011 where he began working for a small independent wine merchant called Theatre of Wine.
“Theatre of Wine handles all aspects of the business - retail, wholesale, import and events. It is a dynamic company specialising in small regions, boutique producers and wines with character. I am involved in all partsof the work, which keeps things interesting. There are lot opportunities in the London wine industry: tastings are endless, buying trips to Europe and just the fact that many of the worlds best winegrowing regions are at your doorstep. It's allowed me drink thousands of new wines, meet the producers, visit the vineyards and understand the business from a whole new perspective.”
Sam says he is happy with his new career in London. “It suits me perfectly. The business is small and diverse and I do everything from buying to hosting major events. I am looking forward to doing some vintage work with one of our European producers this year and have many trips to wine regions planned both for work and my own pleasure. The beauty of London is the opportunities - the industry is ever-changing, so whatever I choose to do, whether it be stay with my company, open a wine bar or go back to production, the future is full of possibilities.”
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.