Jancis Robinson in the Financial Times (12 May 08) talks about the growing number of Brits who have followed their dream and bought a vineyard in France.
It is hardly surprising then that a substantial proportion of the hundreds of thousands of Brits who own French property have been tempted by the apparently bucolic life of a vigneron……
Are there any French winemakers left down there?
I asked Walter McKinlay, whose Domaine de Mourchon southern Rhône wines are some of the most successful from a British domaine, whether his Domaine de Mourchon wines were financially viable. He frowned. “Just about,” he said cautiously, then smiled. “But it’s a lovely lifestyle though.”
My own observation would be that it can be incredibly hard work and despite the attractions of the climate, landscape and the French way of life, it can also be very stressful. And as with all winemakers, a bad harvest, particularly in the early years can be devastating.
So, here’s our list of British vineyard owners (and 1 Irish couple) – that we are aware of (not an exhaustive list I am sure). Visits can be much more informative if the language is no barrier:-
Domaine de Laroux – Cotes de Gascogne, Armagnac (32 Gers, Midi-Pyrenees) – Nick and Karen Kitchener
Chateau Haut Garrigue - Bergerac, Saussignac AC (24 Dordogne, Aquitaine) – Sean and Caroline Feely (the Irish couple running an organic vineyard also known as Wild Earth Vineyards)
Domaine de Fontenay – Cote Roannaise AC (42 Loire, Rhone-Alpes) – Simon and Isabelle Hawkins
Domaine Gourdon – Cotes de Duras AC (47 Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine) – John Coulthard
Domaine du Grand Mayne – Cotes de Duras AC (47 Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine) – Andrew Gordon
Domaine de Begude – Limoux AC (11 Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon) – Catherine and James Kinglake
Domaine de Mourchon – Cotes du Rhone Seguret AC (84 Vaucluse, Provence) – Walter McKinley
Maison des Bulliats – Regnie AC Beaujolais (69 Rhone, Rhone-Alpes) – Fred and Helen Lockwood
Chateau Méaume – Bordeaux Superieure AC (33 Gironde, Aquitaine) – Alan and Sue Johnson-Hill