History of SWIG
SWIG was started by Mark Brandon in 2014.
Mark was educated in the Wine Trade by his peers on the understanding that he would pass his knowledge on to others. On retirement he decided that he would help the wider public and consumers in making more informed wine choices. So in 2014 SWIG was born, a neat acronym for the Salisbury Wine Interest Group that met following local advertisements and through the newsletter of the Wine Society. SWIG started meeting in the Red Lion hotel but its popularity meant that a larger venue was required and it has settled in the St John's Suite at the Mercure White Hart Hotel.
The programme quickly evolved to include an illustrated talk complete with background notes, and tasting 8-10 wines. More recently blind, vertical and mystery quiz tastings have occurred.
Mark was the Wine Trade’s last indentured apprentice and has worked in wine continuously for over 50 years, starting at J.H.G.Hamilton in Canterbury. Mark has held many senior positions in the UK wine trade including the Wine Society, Diageo, Mayor Sworder, the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery, and the Clansouth Consortium of 26 breweries where he sourced and bottled wines for the group.
Mark holds a distinction and two scholarships in the WSET wine trade exams, and is a member of the Champagne Academy. He has achieved an Adult and Further Education teaching qualification and was also a panel judge on the annual International Wine Challenge. He has written for Robert Parker in the US, and worked with Taste of the Vine, an international specialist in corporate entertainment. He also tutored courses at the prestigious Marlborough College Summer School.
Mark and his wife Sue decided to take more of a back seat from January 2020 and handed over the running of SWIG to a membership Steering Group. A new constitution was drawn up and three Officers elected.
Mark was made lifetime honorary President of SWIG in November and it is hoped he will continue to contribute for years to come. Indeed he is co-presenting the tastings in January and March 2020 and gives his first Presidential Selection in October.
Tasting at the International Wine Challenge in London