The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Overseas -

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. stesteve­; 00 33 4 90 099016)

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