Eric Heerema, Owner & CEO, Nyetimber, Brand of Tomorrow 2007

Eric Heerema is the owner and Chief Executive of Nyetimber, producer of England’s finest sparkling wine.

Eric originally comes from the Netherlands where he trained and worked as a lawyer, before going on to work in asset management. Eric has been a keen wine enthusiast since the age of seventeen, and had always hoped he would one day start or be involved in a vineyard. Twelve years ago, whilst living in the West Sussex countryside, he picked-up the trend of sparkling wine. Convinced that top quality sparkling wine could be produced beyond the borders of Champagne, he planted a vineyard in West Sussex and two years later acquired the Nyetimber estate. He has been the visionary and leading force behind the company since early 2006. Production and sales have increased steadily ever since then and nowadays international brand building and -sales are a key priority.

With around 225 hectares under vine spread across six sites in West Sussex and two in Hampshire, and since last month also in Kent, today Nyetimber is the biggest vineyard land owner in the UK.

In order to be a successful luxury entrepreneur, what are three pieces of advice you would give?

Long-term vision, significant financial means, a great team and relentless perseverance.

What are the two most important lessons you have learned along your journey?

That you need the above in question one; and also to believe in yourself and don’t panic when things take years longer and require much more money than expected.

What are the watch outs along the way?

Second rate advisors, especially some industry or luxury/brand professionals who know how to sell their services yet have no clue what it takes in some specific circumstances.

When you started out who was your biggest inspiration? And what did they tell you that helped make you a success?

My inspiration has come from many sources but fundamentally an admiration of iconic luxury brands, many of them British.