The Quest for Vines

Given that we’d lost most of our 2009 crop (and a fair chunk of 2010) to hail in May, we could either have thrown in the towel, or gone in search of more vineyards to buy, or take under lease. We were tempted by option A, but umpteen, welcome messages of support from customers – some on this site – persuaded us to get off our butts.

If we’d been in, say, New Zealand, we’d simply have gone out and found some grapes to make up the 80% loss. It would have been up to us – not the State – to ensure that the quality is good enough to go into our ‘brand’: about 70% of the grapes that go into Villa Maria’s consistently good wines, for example, come from contract growers.

We don’t make expensive Grand Cru Classé stuff from hallowed turf. However, this being a ‘Château’ and this being France with Appellation Contôlée rules and all that, means that we actually have to find growers who are prepared to sell (not an option for us) or lease their vineyards, for us to be able to include the grapes in the wines of Château Bauduc. This is a bigger commitment on both sides than a straightforward sale of grapes, and the contract has to be sanctioned and witnessed by the SAFER, the State body that approves all agricultural land exchanges.

We’ll spare you all the gory details, suffice to say we took out a renewable 6-year lease on the vineyards shown in the video back in July. There is a clause that allows either side to cancel at the start of each year, just in case. Pass me the Solpadeine, someone.

Of course, if the wine we make as a result isn’t up to scratch, we won’t include it in our ‘Château Bauduc’ wines. But that’s just common sense, isn’t it?