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I joined my family’s firm of Fields Wine Merchants in Chelsea in the 1970’s, working for my father.
In 1976 I was invited to go on the Champagne Academy Course and duly arrived in Epernay with 11 other candidates to find that not only was I the only female, but that some of our hosts had not realized that they had a woman on the course for the first time, causing a few humorous logistics, Valerie being very much a man’s name in France. In those days there were just 12 houses participating in the Academy and the course took two weeks, which included a weekend in Paris.
That time on the Course was the most magical ever and one that I will never forget. We arrived at Paris airport to be met by Andre Rouzaud, of Louis Roederer . The next day started off at 9.00 a.m. on a Sunday morning with an introduction to Champagne by none other than Patrick Forbes of Moet et Chandon. Some of my amazing memories are of dining with Madame Odette Pol Roger and being tutored in their tasting room by Paul, Remi and Henry Krug. Sitting next to Prince Guy de Polignac at dinner one night, he said I should be sure to contact his cousin when I next visited Monaco, none other than Prince Rainier.
Retiring from the wine trade, I moved to Birmingham in 1992 where I became the CA’s regional representative for the Midlands.
In 2008 I moved back to London and took over the role of Administrator, a job that I very much enjoy.