One of the real challenges we faced when starting the vines was that neither of us knew anything about farming. I have no background in Chemistry or Biology – as an English teacher I’m probably the least-equipped person in the world to start wine growing. There is a romantic, aesthetic dimension to wine and grapes that attracts me, but a lot of the time I’m flying blind, relying on gut feel and advice from colleagues.
It’s safe to say that most urban people romanticise farming. I know I did before I started actually doing it. But despite what I said earlier about some obvious similarities, farming is not like gardening. Gardening is done for recreational, aesthetic purposes and farming is done for money. This really changes everything.

When your income depends on the success or failure of your crop you will do anything necessary to make things work. You might be inclined to farm organically, but if your plants are dying from mildew or being decimated by botrytis and there is an effective spray that will protect them without harming insects or birds, you find that you are suddenly prepared to compromise.

Fortunately, there have been some astonishing advances in food-grade and organic products to assist farmers like ourselves who are trying to juggle viability with sustainable farming practices.