ALLAN AND ALEXANDRAWILSON
Allan and Alexandra Wilson had already restored a farmhouse in Goult in the Lubéron and were on holiday, sitting in a beautiful square in Aix-en-Provence in the glorious sunshine, when they thought: “We don’t need to live in the rain.”
“We found out there was an international school near Aix which our children could attend and began renting a house in September 2001,” says Allan.
“We started to enjoy the life here. We loved France and thought it would be interesting to expose the children to a different culture and environment, though if we were to stay, we would need something to occupy us. I’d always been interested in wine as a consumer and done some courses in London so we decided we would look for a vineyard.
“I knew it wouldn’t make masses of money but I wanted a challenge. We looked at about eight places and found Saint Estève de Néri, which had been part of the Château de Sannes, one of the best domaines in the Lubéron. We have 42 acres of vines, a nice house and three members of staff.
“Our first harvest was a disaster as there was torrential rain at the end of August. In many ways it was good that it happened then as we weren’t so emotionally attached to the crop. Then the following year, 2003, was the heatwave but it turned out to be a very good year.
“I’ve learnt that even when everything appears fine, something can go wrong. Our objective is to make wines that are an expression of the year they were produced, where they came from and how they were handled. My best moment was after the 2003 harvest when we heard we’d won a gold medal at the Concours Général in Paris.”
Château Saint Estève de Néri, Ansouis (www. stestevedeneri.com; 00 33 4 90 099016)