The pros and cons of owning a vineyard in France

Written by on March 30, 2017 in Guest Blogs

In 2005 Sean, my partner, and I gave up our city lives to pursue of our dream to create fine organic wines on a dilapidated farmhouse and vineyard in South West France. Like some of the best laid plans ours was off reality by a couple of zeros (note to self – for a more realistic plan in the future decrease revenue by a third and increase costs by a third).

Our dream would be over before it started if we didn’t diversify fast. We added wine tourism in the form of accommodation – initially half our house and now two luxury renovated gites that won us the Best of Wine Tourism Gold Trophy in the greater Bordeaux region in 2017. We also added a wine school and educative wine tours. Diversification and selling direct were key to making our farm a success.

You may have heard the joke ‘you can make a small fortune with a vineyard – if you start with a large one’. We didn’t start with the latter and we are still looking for the former but we have had a lot of fun along the way. Here are a few pros and cons if you are feeling tempted to leap into a vineyard adventure.

Pros of owning a vineyard

– you will never run out of wine (for a Saturday night with friends its ideal – no more ‘Oh *!§*!’ that was the last bottle’)

– you won’t need a gym or any other form of exercise – doing a circuit of shoot removal around our vineyard includes about 25000 squats and a 20km hike

– if you arrived with a partner and you stay together your relationship is rock solid

– if you farm organically you will have a relatively healthy life (see my top ten for celebrating organic at http://chateaufeely.com/ten-reasons-celebrate-supporting-organic-farming/ )

– there is little space for boredom, every spare moment will be filled

Cons of owning a vineyard

– you will regularly experience a sore back, stiff arms/ legs/ whatnots

– you may lose hair from tearing it out at bureaucratic idiosyncrasies (vineyard planting rights, voluntary obligatory payments…)

– as for leisure time, remember, this is a ‘lifestyle’ business, it is your life in work and play. I’m not sure how to explain the style part – if you could see me after a day in the vineyard it is the last word that would spring to mind.

Regardless of the cons and the hard work involved, there is a special sense of wonder of working in with nature and enjoying your own produce. Sipping our first vintage, the 2006, a couple of days ago, I reflected that there really is something magical about creating a product that still tastes delicious more than a decade later and that can tell you about its place, its terroir and the year it was born.

If you are looking for entertainment, to learn a little about organic or thinking of moving to France and / or  buying a vineyard, consider reading Grape Expectations, Saving our Skins and Glass Half Full first. If you are a tenacious being with a vineyard obsession you will boldly go ahead – at least you will be eyes wide open.

 Caro Feely, a wine teacher and organic farmer, and partner Sean, offer organic wine, wine school, walking tours and accommodation at www.chateauFeely.com in south-west France (15 minutes west of Bergerac and a little over an hour east of Bordeaux). Her latest book Glass Half Full hits the shelves 13 April 2017  – www.amazon.co.uk

Related Articles

Gaspard de Besse The Robin Hood of Provence 

Gaspard de Besse robbed from the rich (who detested him) and gave to the poor (who adored him). Often compared to the British Robin Hood but whilst the latter’s roots are shrouded in mystery, there’s no doubt about the identity of the famous French outlaw. Gaspard de Besse Gaspard Bouis, later known as Gaspard de […]

Continue Reading

The Cross Of Lorraine Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises Champagne-Ardenne

The Cross of Lorraine and Charles de Gaulle Memorial, Haute-Marne, Champagne-Ardenne. In the little town of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in Champagne-Ardenne you will find an incredible monument, the Cross of Lorraine, and an exhibition centre dedicated to General de Gaulle and the main historical events that marked his life. De Gaulle was born in Lille in 1890 […]

Continue Reading

My Personal Shopper in Paris

My Personal Shopper in Paris

Written by on July 12, 2017 in Guest Blogs

“Approaching the age of 60, I decided to update my style for a new, more mature me” said Martha McCormick from the US. She decided a shopping experience in Paris was what was needed and tells us about her experience. Older French women are my ideal. If only I could look as elegant and alluring […]

Continue Reading

Department 46 | Lot, France

Department 46 | Lot, France

Written by on July 10, 2017 in Guest Blogs

Although it is over ten years since we moved back to the UK, after two houses and several years in France, whenever I spot a French car, I still have to look for the départment number on the plaque. And if it’s 46, I give a little inward cheer and find myself smiling stupidly, or […]

Continue Reading

The Belgian side of Flanders

Once a nation in its own right, Flanders today straddles two countries – France and its northern neighbour, Belgium. Ypres A short drive from Calais in French Flanders will bring you to the picturesque walled town of Ypres, in Belgian Flanders. A memorable way to enter the town is through the monumental Menin Gate. Its […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top