5 mins with our new CEO
Exton Park welcomes Robin McMillan to the team as our new CEO. We find out what Robin’s predictions are for English wine and why he chose to join the journey of Exton Park.
What attracted you to this role?
The idea of working in my home county with such a talented team producing great English sparkling wines that are on the cusp of even greater glory was irresistible. I am passionate about the English wine market, it has really come into its own in recent years with a real sense of momentum now. Some have predicted the UK wine industry will be producing 40 million bottles within 20 years (currently just over 9 million) and create 30,000 jobs and so it’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining Exton Park and being part of that journey. Plus of course I can bring my rescue dog (Boomer) to work every day!
Why does Exton Park stand apart from other English wine producers?
I am keen to be a passionate ambassador for Exton Park and all English wine, we should be rightly proud of what has been achieved in a relatively short period of time and the more quality wine producers we have, the better, there is room for us all. Having said that, there are key elements that I believe make us stand out, and when combined, make Exton Park unique. Our 60 acre single vineyard status where all the grapes that go into our wines are exclusively from the vineyard on the Exton Estate, our library of reserve wines nurtured and built up over many years by Corinne and the winemaking team, and of course the newly completed Exton Hall, a simply stunning events facility for showcasing the best of Exton Park.
Harvest is coming up soon, what are you most looking forward to?
I’ve been fortunate over my career with Berry Bros & Rudd, The Wine Society and Decanter to have been on a number of trips to vineyards and wineries around the world but they have always tended to be relatively quick visits. The idea of being able to take the time to experience first-hand the seasons in the vineyard and the crafting that takes place in the winery is a huge plus for me, not so much going back to MY routes but going back to THE routes of the industry I have been in for over 30 years. We are a small but perfectly formed team and a business where everyone mucks in so I think I am most looking forward to really getting under the skin of the business in a practical and (hopefully) helpful way!
What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?
A question I have been asked once or twice before over the years! My usual answer to that question has in the past been “Champagne and Fish & Chips”, I love the juxtaposition of the luxury of champagne with the simplicity of good old Fish & Chips. More recently though I have amended this to “English Sparkling wine and Fish & Chips” and of course now it can only be “Exton Park’s finest and Fish & Chips”, although I’m going to have to take some advice from Corinne on which of our wines she suggests, assuming she approves of my matching choice……
What’s the future for English wine?
I’m not new to the wine industry but I am a newcomer to the English wine industry, even allowing for my admiration from afar of late. So I have a lot to learn, but instinctively, I am extremely positive about the future for English wine with so many factors having come together in the last 10 years to create world class wines – the warmer climate, talented wine makers, significant investment in wineries and equipment, all leading to soaring quality.
I think we are going to see the trend for direct to consumer sales continue to grow and more consumers will, I think, choose English sparkling over other choices because with the quality now a given, why wouldn’t you buy home grown?
At Exton Park, we are proud of our record in innovation and sustainable practices and I do believe that there is a lot more of that to come – the beauty of English sparkling wine and Exton Park is that we can plough our own furrow, there is a real pioneering spirit driving our thinking and the evolution of the wines and brand.
“The first time I tasted Exton Park I was astonished. The wine has a purity, clarity, but also an intensity of flavour and uniqueness of scent I'd never come across before.”Oz Clark - English Wine
“Exton Park and I share the same passion for quality, sustainability and local ingredients. Their winemaker, Corinne, mirrors the same level of precision and technique that I expect from the top chefs in my kitchens. This is why I selected Exton Park's Rosé for my restaurants.”Simon Rogan - 4 Michelin Star Chef
“Peaches and strawberries in effervescent perfection. Hampshire’s greatest hit.”Olly Smith - ITV Wine Critic, RB23 Rosé 2021
“Wines that are kaleidoscopically complex and exciting.”Jancis Robinson, 2021