Drink – Launch of Glasgow Wine School

A winemaker who honed his craft for 17 years in the vineyards of South Africa is toasting a new venture in the heart of Glasgow.

Entrepreneur Justin Hoy, a qualified winemaker, is opening Glasgow Wine School – the city’s first independent wine school – to offer evening tastings, Saturday events and four and eight-week courses for beginners and experts alike.

The school, which opens on December 10 at the Radisson BLU Hotel in Glasgow, is the newest location for the successful and rapidly expanding www.localwineschool.com family – a UK-wide network of independent wine schools providing entertaining tastings and courses for people who want to learn more about wine. All events are available to buy at www.glasgowwineschool.com as gift vouchers in time for Christmas, as well as birthdays and other special occasions.

Justin’s passion for wine stems from his studies at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, followed by a three-year winemaking diploma in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where he fell in love with the subject. He learnt the tools of the trade from one of the top winemakers in New Zealand, and made wine for over a dozen small vineyards in South Africa.

In 2004, Justin and his wife Mary, who hails from the Scottish Highlands, bought a run-down fruit farm in Elgin in South Africa, named after the Scottish town. They planted vineyards, built a production cellar, barrel cellar and tasting room, and opened a restaurant and deli. The farm’s first harvest was in 2007, and the wine they produced achieved 4.5 out of a maximum of 5 stars in the Platters Wine Guide – South Africa’s wine bible. They increased their portfolio of wines over the next five years, before deciding to make the move back to the UK to continue their children’s education here.

Justin has more than a decade of experience in speaking about wine at courses and clubs in South Africa, and felt that the time was now right to turn his passion for discussing wine into a career. He came across the localwineschool.com franchise while searching on the internet for ways to set up his own private school in the UK, and thought it was the perfect fit.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to sharing my knowledge with other wine lovers in a fun, relaxed enjoyable way at Glasgow Wine School. I’ve always been intrigued with different styles, flavours, and how the right wine can fit into any occasion, and I want to make discovering and understanding wines accessible to everyone.

“localwineschool.com ticks all the boxes in terms of providing a structured model, marketing support, and a network of other franchisees to turn to for advice and inspiration. I can’t wait to get started.”

The localwineschool.com network has schools in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Lancashire, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire. Chris Powell, the founder/owner, set up the first school in Newcastle in 2000.

Chris said: “Justin has in-depth knowledge and infectious passion for all things wine. His background in the South African wine industry makes him a valuable asset to localwineschool.com, and I have no doubt that Glasgow Wine School – the second of the Scottish franchises – will be a great success.”

Glasgow Wine School’s events will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, 301 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8DL. The first introductory evening course takes place on Tuesday, December 10, followed by a Champagne tasting on Friday, December 13.

For more information about upcoming dates and prices, and to buy gift vouchers for Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions, visit www.glasgowwineschool.com email info@glasgowwineschool.com.

Justin’s top 10 wine tips

1) Try matching wines to foods that come from the same area the wine was made

2) Don’t be scared to try new wines or to ask questions – there are no stupid questions

3) You are never wrong when it comes to liking wine

4) No one can give you a definitive time to age wine. If unsure, buy a case or two. Try a bottle after a year. If it tastes too young, leave the rest and try the next bottle the next year. Once you taste what you like, start enjoying it, drink the rest!

5) Drink wine to suit your mood and surroundings – on a warm summer’s day in the garden at a BBQ, a light, fruity white or rose is probably going to taste much nicer than a heavy red claret

6) Drink what you like, and like what you drink. There is nothing wrong with that £3.99 from the supermarket, or that £25.99 from Berry Brothers!

7) Very cold wines often have no smell and may taste a bit watery – if this is the case, leave the wine out of the fridge to warm up slightly. As those flavour compound start warming up and become more volatile, you’ll be amazed how the wine will transform

8) Screw cap wines are just as good as wines sealed with a cork

9) Never open your best wines at the end of the evening. The more your guests have had to drink, the less they’ll appreciate the nuances of that very expensive wine you’ve been lovingly aging in your custom built cellar for the last few years

10) Temperature variation is more detrimental to the health of your wine than the correct temperature. If you don’t have a cellar, and cannot store your wines at the prescribed temperature, try to store your wine in an area where the day to day temperature variation remains more constant. Under the stairs is much better than the kitchen!




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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