Want to make your own wine? The key is in the planning, says Monty Waldin, who shares his insight from several winemaking ventures. Plus, we profile three couples who are now living the dream in South Africa, England and France.

Advice before you buy

Waldin’s wise words:

1. Well before you have picked your first grape, a sales, marketing and distribution plan needs to be in place.
2. Don’t hope that your vineyard will be climatechange proof. It won’t be, so budget accordingly.
3. Before committing, draw up three business plans:
i) one which sees the vineyard land as a potentially lucrative investment someone will want one day to buy;
ii) one which sees your wine brand as an investment someone will want one day to buy;
iii) and one which sees your wine as just ‘another wine’, with realistic costs of production (including sales and marketing) and conservative sales and profit margins, and which no one will ever want to buy. Now rip up the first two plans and get cracking!

Seven questions to ask before you buy

  1. How much wine are you going to make, who is going to buy it, how much do you think (not hope) they will pay, and what is your margin? Everything that follows depends on these numbers.
  2. Do you want to plant a vineyard on virgin land, or to buy an existing vineyard?
  3. Do you want a vineyard with its own winery?
  4. Do you want a vineyard in a nice area with a great view, or one which already makes – or may make – a great wine?
  5. Would it be better to rent vines to get the feel of an area first?
  6. Will you do the work yourself or will you rely on staff with more experience, learning and gaining some self-sufficiency and expertise yourself in the process
  7. What impact will the venture have on your family? Will young children want to be a plane ride away from their grandparents, for example? Or to learn a new language, or to change schools?

Get inspired with these books…

Château Monty, Monty Waldin (Portico, £16.99)
Grape Expectations and Saving our Skins Caro Feely (Summersdale, £8.99 each)
Under the Tuscan Sun Frances Mayes (Bantam, £7.99)
The Ripening Sun Patricia Atkinson (Arrow, £7.99)
A Good Year Peter Mayle (Sphere, £9.99)
The Road to Burgundy Ray Walker (Gotham, £9.99)
Virgile’s Vineyard Patrick Moon (Matador, £9.99)
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Winery Thomas Pellechia (Alpha, £11.43)

Written by Monty Waldin

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Advice before you buy
  3. 3. How to buy a vineyard: Case study 1: Seven Springs, Hermanus, South Africa
  4. 4. How to buy a vineyard: Case study 2: Hattingley Valley, Hampshire, England
  5. 5. How to buy a vineyard: Case study 3: Domaine Ste-Rose, Servian, France
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