The London Women and Wine Club is centred around wine and women. The aim is to learn about wine in a relaxed and pleasant environment, while providing networking opportunities to professional and accomplished women.
It is a virtual club, meeting once a month in different places around London, always private and beautiful locations, with each time some different food and wine choices around a theme. Each event includes a woman speaker around a different subject.
Both Laurence and Anne are qualified with the Diploma of WSET and they are passionate about wine, helping you discover new wines and network while listening to a really interesting woman speaker. The events are interactive and have ample time for questions and networking.
Members will also benefit from a record of what they liked as well as wine tips, discounts on events and other benefits.
Sarah Vandendriessche, Winemaker for Elizabeth Spencer, oversees the daily and seasonal aspects of viticulture and winemaking, regularly walking the vineyard sites, and engaging in thoughtful, open, active dialogue with our renowned growers. During the growing season, she works even more closely with their growers on best practices and goals for grape quality, grape maturity, and harvest dates to ensure the finest and best quality fruit for Elizabeth Spencer wines. “It’s not just about winemaking,” said Sarah. “It’s about relationships. What we do is built on the trust of the farmers growing the grapes.” An action person, Sarah is similarly hands-on in the winery, tasting wines from barrels, managing all wine movements, rackings, bottlings, and, of course, the controlled chaos of harvest and crush. “I conceptualize the wine and do blending trials so the wines manifest our vision,” she explained. “We continue to make wines of restraint and elegance, in the taste profile and style we’ve established.” A native of New Orleans, food, music and wine are part of Sarah’s cultural heritage. She also has a science background in microbiology and describes her approach to winemaking as holistic. “At Elizabeth Spencer, we look at winemaking from a macro viewpoint, how living organisms interact with their environment,” she explained. “There is an unpredictability and magic in winemaking—how the grapes, yeasts, bacteria and other soil microorganisms interact with one another. I constantly taste the wines, we don’t just rely on chemistry.”
Sarah will be in person in London and will lead us to an informal tasting accompanied by lovely tapas.
“When I was 2 years old, I had my first “wine tasting” experience in Italy where my grandmother made me smell and taste a little of a sip of red wine. A few years later I found myself in Tokaj with my family where I kept sipping up the sweet wine leftovers from my parent’s glass (of course they had no idea.. but it was delicious!).
Hungary at that time was still selling sweet red wines and in my young adult years spritzers for white and red wine mixed with cranberry juice or strawberry syrup, the Macifroccs was the “drinking culture”. That probably answers why I did not go into wine up until I was in my early/mid-20s.
I was studying hotel management, catering, and hospitality at one of the best universities in Budapest. We all had to have 2 internships. I have done one in Cyprus and 1 in the US, in Colorado. Whilst I was in Colorado I heard about the profession of sommelier, for the first time. I was amazed by them, how much knowledge they had on not only wine, but food. I attended a training in the hotel, and I must say, I had no idea what they talked about. It was not only in English which is not my first language but also wine has often a different vocabulary for it. I did not know Nebbiolo is a grape, I had no idea how they could smell mushrooms in their glasses of Barolo. But I was curious and wanted to know more.
I enrolled in the Court of Master Sommelier program and did my introductory course while I was out there for the second time in 2014. I did go back to pass my certified level to the US and did that in 2015 I believe.
Moving back to Hungary I found myself my first Sommelier job in a 1 Michelin Star restaurant which for the year I was working at got the best restaurant in Hungary title. I enjoyed it but I barely sold anything but Hungarian wine and my passion for the world of wine just got bigger after my Certified Sommelier Exam.
Szentkiralyi Orsi reached out not even knowing me that she would like to meet me in Budapest and taste wine with me. She is an Advanced Sommelier. I was excited as I did not know there were any Advanced sommeliers in Hungary (at that time there was not one living there. We met and had tastings together, and she said I have a talent and would love to help me, I shall come to London as if I ever want to become a Master Sommelier one day I should be studying in London.
So, I did, I had nobody I knew but Orsi in this country. In Budapest I lived alone, had many friends, amazing family and I still moved to London, to a house with 12 others, to a room that was the size of the bathroom I had back home. It was a huge shock; I was 26. I am not going to lie; it was very difficult in the first few years. The most difficult time of my life. I started working in a 2 Michelin Star restaurant called The Greenhouse. Long days, lots of hours not much social life did not help to feel better, but I had one aim, I would like to be an Advanced sommelier.
I realized that working in Michelin-starred restaurants is an amazing experience, but I felt like I could not really have my personality come through and I wanted to see more.
The same friend, Orsi told me about 67 Pall Mall and sent my CV to Ronan Sayburn MS, who has given me a chance, so I started there in 2018 as a Junior Sommelier.
It was really heaven in terms of wine selection, clientele and I have realized I still have so much to learn, but I am in the best place I can be as many Advanced Sommeliers, Master Sommelier & Master of Wine candidates were working there that time and who then helped me to grow.
I couple of years later I took the Advanced sommelier exam. Prior to that, I had prepared hard for it – through extremely long and busy shifts I had sacrificed my social life, and personal life just to pass this exam for about a year.
I felt like I had so much to prove not only for the company but mostly for myself, that I could do it. I have passed for the first time, and I was in a high! Those 5 days of classes and examinations have been the most difficult days of my life in terms of studies and having my university diploma after this I can say was a walk in the park! This is different.
There are a handful of Hungarian Advanced Sommeliers and only 1 Master Sommelier so I decided I would like to and hopefully will become the first Hungarian woman Master Sommelier which I am still studying for.
I have left the floor – I needed a bit more balance and a routine, however, I still do some shifts in the Chiltern Firehouse next to my main job at BB&R. where I work as a Senior Events Executive.
The more I know, the more I think I do not know and that makes me grateful. To me wine is not an alcoholic drink. Its history, family, story, climate, geography and so much more. I do get emotional when drinking a special bottle which does not have to be expensive but that reminds me of the struggle of the vintage, or the story of the winemaker of perhaps a memory I shared with a loved one.
It has been difficult to live in a country where I had to build relationships, stand strong, and get to higher positions without much support from friends and family as they are far away. However, it made me stronger and luckily now I got to know and meet so many legends in the world of wine and have been mentored by such amazing people as Ronan, Terry, Svetoslav, Heidi, Roberto, and many others who helped me so much on this journey.”
Come and join Zsofi at Berry Bros for a unique journey, tasting carefully selected wines in a ver special environment.
We will have a seated dinner and taste 6 wines
Please do contact us if you would like to find out more about us or if you want to be on our mailing list.