Thursday, 25 August 2016

Living the dream - Ten things that might help you if you are planning to make wine from scratch in England.

The Dream.
As we followed the big removal truck down our road in the burbs to start our life back in the West Country, one of our neighbours shouted "livin the dream" by way of goodbye . Life was going to be one extended  daytime TV property show. The sun would always be shining, all year round lambs would be frolicking in the fields  and horny handed sons of toil would be leaning on gates and chewing straw ready for a chat and a glass of cider. Of course, this has absolutely no resemblance to how we were feeling - we were completely arse clenchingly terrified.  What sort of practical things would our 1997 selves have liked to have known before we started our big adventure  that may have helped us on the way?


1. If you are in possession of a large fortune, welcome to having a small fortune. If you are in possession of a small fortune, say goodbye to it. If you don't have any fortune, you are about to give every waking moment over to your dream of making great wine and so, ask yourself, do you really want to do it.Really really? Really?
Living the dream. 
2.Are you as happy working alone in a field for the whole day in the bleak mid-winter with nobody to talk to except  rows upon row of vines as you are spending a whole day doing nothing but talking to people about how you stand alone in fields in the middle of winter talking to plants?  
3. Build a five year plan with steps built in for the major milestones on the way.
4. Rename it eight year plan.
5. Don't do this on your own, co-operate. Talk to as many other vineyard owners as you can. There are precious few souls in this world as stupid as you are and they will help you and provide a shoulder to cry on as someday, you'll be doing the same for them. 
6. If you want to make good wine, the most important single decision you will ever take will be location. The fact that a vineyard would look pretty from your dining room is not a good reason to plant there. Nor is proximity to a pub and good schools, neither will cheer you up ( well the pub might) if you are three years down the track and still no signs of a grape.
7.Farm equipment is unbelievably dangerous. Vineyard tractors are small but they have everything that can slice off  a body part as cleanly as a really really big one.
8. Work out your costs and be absolutely forensic. Include every single expenditure that you can think of from sprays, equipment, and labour right through to the number of wellies you'll wear out.
9. Take your fine tuned budget and add a gratuitous 60% on top.  This is now your budget.
10. Get a vineyard Dog. Make sure he or she is a good listener.


Do we regret giving over eight years of our lives to get our wine off the ground? Not for a single second.