Vin­tage years in your own win­ery

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

be­hind the Costa del Sol and, with a lit­tle help from their neigh­bours, toiled for a day and a half to gather and press the or­gan­i­cally grown caber­net sau­vi­gnon, tem­pranillo, mer­lot and shi­raz grapes from their six acres of vines.

“The red was a fine crop, the su­gar per­fect,” says How­son, a busi­ness­man who with his wife, Lee-Anne, di­vides his time be­tween this ru­ral finca, a home in nearby Mar­bella, and Wim­ble­don in south-west London. “We make around 2,000 bot­tles a year, to give to friends or sell lo­cally, and gift the sweet white wine – from the Pe­dro Ximenez grapes – to our staff. We could make a lot more if we worked at it more vig­or­ously but, for me, it’s al­ways been a lit­tle hobby rather than a busi­ness.

“Hav­ing a vine­yard has been won­der­ful. With no frost in the win­ter, it’s the per­fect cli­mate here. You can see all the way to the Mediter­ranean. I love sit­ting out­side the bodega, hav­ing a wine-tast­ing ses­sion with friends, know­ing ex­actly which vines the wine came from, and then not hav­ing a headache in the morn­ing as it’s all or­ganic. Guests are fas­ci­nated by our rather ec­cen­tric wine ac­tiv­i­ties.”

In­deed, many wine en­thu­si­asts will toy with the idea of own­ing a prop­erty like How­son’s, but it’s a dream that many won’t re­alise be­cause of the hard work or deep pock­ets re­quired; if you are not hands-on, you need to pay some­one else to be.

Singers and ac­tors seem par­tic­u­larly into the idea: Sir Cliff Richard, Mick Huck­nall, An­to­nio Ban­deras, Sam Neill and Brad Pitt and An­gelina Jolie have all owned vine­yards. Buy­ing one for the life­style ben­e­fits re­mains very pop­u­lar, says Tim Swan­nie of Home Hunts, a buy­ing agent in France that has a spe­cial­ist vine­yard di­vi­sion. “From young cou­ples look­ing for a re­treat, to City boys, re­tired cou­ples and fam­i­lies look­ing for a B&B prop­erty with rev­enue, we help a di­verse range of peo­ple find life­style vine­yard prop­er­ties in France,” he says. “We get a lot of in­ter­est from Bri­tish clients, as well as Dutch, Bel­gians, Ger­mans, Scan­di­na­vians and some Amer­i­cans,” he adds. “Most don’t want to turn the vines into a com­mer­cial ven­ture, but love the idea of be­ing able to pro­duce their own wine for friends and fam­ily.”

Look­ing af­ter a hobby vine­yard in France or Spain doesn’t have to dom­i­nate your time. You could get a

A chateau near Pau, main, €2.09m with Home Hunts; Cedric How­son’s wine es­tate, left, €1.5m with Mar­bella Homes (mar­bel­la­homes. com); far right, a house at Château St Pierre de Ser­jac, €650,000 (do­maine de­meure.com)

A Chianti es­tate, right, €4.8m, and a vine­yard in Men­doza, left, through Sphere Es­tates

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