A glass of 1945 Chateau Montrose, tasted while studying hotel management, caused Francis to ditch his studies and become a sommelier at The Grand in Brighton. The hotel saw fit to promote the 19 year old to head sommelier six months later, a position that pandered to the teenager's sense of laziness. 'All I did was taste wine and talk to people about it, I even had others to open the bottles for me.'
A month before his 21st birthday he received a job offer from a London fine wine shipper. He packed his corkscrew and worked in the West End for three years, managing the accounts of renowned hotels and restaurants. Vineyard trips while at the shipper fostered a desire for travel and Francis took a course in wine chemistry at Plumpton College that led him to work in wineries in Australia, California and Romania.
Taste of the Vine
On his return to the UK Francis wrote a wine course for the wine shipper, which led to an enduring love of presenting and the formation of Taste of the Vine, the world's first company dedicated to providing wine tasting events for the entertainment market. Now in its sixteenth year the company has staged over 3000 tastings in 48 countries.
The Complete Wine Course™
In 2006 Francis launched The Complete Wine Course, the first online wine course. The course is currently undergoing a major revamp and will be available later this year. Look out for course on the Wine Navigator site.
Combining his passion for wine and travel with a love of writing, Francis undertook a quest to discover from where the future wine greats would come. Francis wrote In and out of Africa …in search of Gérard Depardieu, an account of a road trip through the vineyards of North Africa's Maghreb, and accounts of his other exploits can be found on the blog. The second trip and book are in the planning.
Francis is also one of the authors for Wine Opus from Dorling Kindersley, and in conjunction with the talented designer, Andrew Till from Plastic, has developed Wine Navigator. Wine Trumps was a for-love project in part to see if he could put a classification to the world’s top wines, but mostly due to pressure from his eight year old son.