A WINE education course is celebrating its highest student intake in its 30-year history.

Plumpton College said the intake for its 2018 to 2019 courses had increased by 20 per cent since last year.

Chris Foss, head of the Plumpton wine division, said: “On top of an outstanding grape harvest in our vineyards, we are delighted to see such good student numbers this year, clearly demonstrating the boom in the English wine industry and Plumpton’s growing worldwide reputation.”

Since 1988, Plumpton College, near Lewes, has provided a range of programmes, from apprenticeships to university degrees, in wine business and production. These are delivered by team of ten wine specialists in Plumpton’s purpose-built Wine Centre, which includes laboratories, a sensory evaluation room, lecture rooms and a research winery.

Plumpton Wine Estate also manages ten hectares of vineyards and a commercial winery, where students produce award-winning still and sparkling wines. The college has also had its first two wine business students born this millennium.

Gabby Riley, 18, said: “I came on the course as I have always been interested in the idea of how wine is sold around the world, that and my love for travelling and how wine can bring different cultures together.

“Studying wine business at Plumpton College will equip me with the right skills and knowledge I need to pursue my career to one day hopefully being an international wine buyer.”

The Wine Division has also seen further growth in the number of students enrolling onto its undergraduate programmes, with an equal gender split and student’s ages ranging from 18 to 60.

Mr Foss said: “We are delighted to see that some of our new students already have substantial industry experience, but the vast majority are new to wine production and are energised to join the UK’s flourishing wine production industry.”

The largest increase in student numbers is on the MSc Viticulture & Oenology, with a doubling of numbers from 10 to 20. This programme, focusing on cool-climate wine production, attracted candidates from all over England, Wales and Ireland, plus France, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, Brazil and Zimbabwe.

Daniel Jackson, a first year student on the MSc Viticulture & Oenology course, said: “For me, it’s been a great start to the course. With a background in chemistry, I’ve enjoyed the balance between science involved in winemaking and viticulture, while having the opportunity to be hands-on picking grapes and fermenting wine.”