Katie Gardner

Where many might have bottled it, Katie Gardner took a leap of faith and switched careers from retail buying to the drinks industry. Now the born and bred Brummie is the toast of Birmingham Wine School 


I’m a born and bred Brummie and have lived here for most of my life. I studied languages at university and got the opportunity to live in France and Spain for a while. I started off my career in retail buying but decided to have a career change around seven years ago and make the leap into the wine industry. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I took my WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) level 3 and after working in sales for a number of big drinks wholesalers for several years, I joined Birmingham Wine School. During my time in the trade I’ve been lucky enough to visit some incredible wine-making regions around the world, from Mendoza in Argentina to Franschhoek in South Africa.


As manager at the wine school, I host wine and gin tasting events for the people of Birmingham alongside my team of knowledgeable tutors and teach WSET educational wine courses for both hospitality professionals and novice wine lovers. Our events are fun and informal, we try to take the mystery out of wine tasting. The WSET courses are a great way of expanding your horizons if you already know a little bit about wine already.


I’m on a mission to make wine fun and accessible to everybody. I think it can often be seen as an intimidating subject, but the most important thing is learning what you like. I love it when someone attends one of our events and says at the beginning – “I hate red wine…” and by the end of the evening I’ve usually convinced them otherwise!


Gaining my diploma in wine and spirits. I was working full-time and it was two years of late nights of studying and hard graft but so rewarding to finally pass. The final exam involved a blind tasting of 12 different wines! People often don’t believe that you can do a professional qualification in wine tasting.


To not worry about the things I can’t control (still learning on that one!) I’m very prone to overthinking everything but sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them.


The accent. Everyone else in the country mocks it but whenever I hear it, it sounds like home. I also think the food scene is fantastic, you can find anything you fancy from some of the best curry houses in the UK to Michelin star dining.


I enjoy the escapism of going to the cinema. Watching a film on the big screen in the dark and immersing yourself in a story for a couple of hours is my way of switching off. Of course, I also highly recommend a nice glass of wine at the end of the day!