As part of the Scottish Apprenticeship in Hospitality we are extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to take part in some amazing and once in a lifetime learning journeys and master classes and on the 5th – 7th of September myself and my fellow apprentices were taken to the Bottega S.P.A winery which is only an hour from Venice. To say we had an early start was an understatement, departing Gleneagles at 4am on the Wednesday morning in order to be on the 6.10am flight to Marco Polo Airport, Italy. As soon as we landed, we knew it was going to be a special few days as we were chauffeur driven from the airport straight to the winery where on arrival the team from Bottega had put a lovely welcome sign and named us all personally, off to a great start!
We then met Claudia, who is the sales manager for parts of Europe and the UK, who gave us an overview of the next few days. Bottega itself is very much like an old farm house and it had a decked seating area at the back of the building, this is where we headed next. This was an opportunity for us to get to know Claudia and Lorenza, who is the master of wine at Bottega, and for them to understand what we were doing and why we were there. They then brought out two bottles of Prosecco and started pouring a glass for each of us, bearing in mind it was only 10.30am, we knew then it was going to be a wine filled trip!
Next on the agenda was to head to a local restaurant for some lunch, the ladies had already highlighted the importance at Bottega of using local produce and having a good relationship with the local businesses so we made the short journey to the restaurant where we had a special table already set aside for us. The team at Bottega had selected a menu in which they could best highlight the local produce and naturally enough there were wines selected to match each course. This lunch was nothing short of fantastic, from the food to the wine and the company – it was first class! The owner of the winery, Alexander had freed up some time in his busy schedule to join us for lunch, to say he is a character, is a massive understatement. He chatted away and was extremely interested in what we did, it was also amazing to see how passionate he was about wine making and the industry itself, this will be one of the main points that I take away from the trip! If you are going to do something ensure it is something you are extremely passionate about!
We arrived back at the winery and were given a tour by Lorenza where she explained there are two main parts to the winery; the distillery and where the wine/Prosecco/liqueurs are made and bottled. As we moved through the buildings it was amazing to see that such a relatively small building produces and exports millions of bottles around the world each year. I think one of the main things that we noticed as a group on the tour was that no one really thinks about the work that goes into getting a bottle of Prosecco for instance, into our homes. From starting with the Glara grapes, to the fermentation, bottling, labelling, securing the corks to the packaging and then the distribution – we all took it for granted but having seen the work and the passion that goes into it I think I will now consciously think about the work that has gone into a bottle every time I open one.
That evening we were to stay and have dinner in the restaurant at the hotel which was in Conegliano. The team at Bottega had together with the restaurant team, devised a 6 course dinner menu with wines, Prosecco and liqueurs to match. The food and drink was fantastic and the Prosecco and wines were all from Bottega with the quality and flavours of the highest standard – the Amarone was to die for! Bearing in mind we had been on the go since 3am that day and had a very full day on of drinking and walking, as soon as dinner was over it was time for bed! A fantastic first day!
Thursday was another early start (with a few sore heads!) We headed straight to the glass blowing factory which is owned by Bottega. This is where they hand blow all their bottles. We got a tour from Lorenza and one of the team that has worked there for over 30 years! Some of the team then got the chance to blow some glass and experience what the team there do everyday. This part of the trip, I think, was everyone’s favourite. it was such a fantastic experience and one that we wouldn’t get to see anywhere else!
After the tour, it was time for another local restaurant for another fantastic lunch and wines! From there we headed back to Bottega to an afternoon of tasting and learning. It was here we really go into the nitty gritty of the wine, learning about the process of making it and the flavours involved. We then had to do an exam to test our knowledge – thankfully we all passed!
Overall the trip to Bottega was such a wonderful opportunity and fantastic experience, the organisation and sponsorship from Matthew Clarke and the team at Bottega was first class. It was such a memorable trip which I would love to repeat again one day!
Scottish Apprentice in Hospitality