Winemaker's Comment - Spring 2021

It’s been a very long 18 months since Nigel was last at the winery. With the significant milestones of this being our 25th Vintage release; 30 years since Stewart bought the land that would become The Elms Vineyard and Felton Road; and 21 years since Nigel took ownership, I’m handing the pen to The Proprietor for some reminiscing and thoughts from Devon.

Proprietor’s Comment!

When Blair asked me if I’d write this newsletter, my thoughts turned to the last 20 odd years of learning to be a vigneron (we don’t really have an English language equivalent, which says much about what I need to recount).

For most of my life, the seasons were a sort of backdrop to life; either a bit of a nuisance or a pleasant opportunity as I got on with my affairs. I didn’t realise until this part of my life began that, to a farmer, the seasons are their life. In fact, a farmer’s life is a series of rounds of a dance with nature. In a lifetime, a farmer might see approaching a hundred of these dances take place, and participate in most of them. Inexorably as our planet follows its skewed orbit around its parent star the new dance begins. It always follows the same general direction, but the music, and consequently the steps, are different every time around. Mankind has survived through the millennia by learning to become an adept dancer.

A bit over a century ago, we had a daring thought. Rather than learn to dance a new step each year, could we turn the power of our technology to reposition us from being students of the dance to dance teachers? Surely our tools and our knowledge could allow us to tell nature what this year’s steps would be? Thus was born a new era.

Wine is an extraordinarily collaborative world, and those who are prepared to go out and learn will find that the doors to practically every winery in the world are open to them, with the vignerons within happy to share their insights and experiences. Over the years Blair and I have sat at many such tables and, over some exquisite glasses, learned from those who are further advanced in their dance classes. And one thing becomes clear. The best… the elite in this game, are humble. They know that they are students of the dance and never the dance teacher. They know that when you try to teach nature your steps, the result is clumsy, the rhythm disappears, the flow breaks. Yes, you can dance that way, but it is a lesser thing.

That is what I have learned. Or, as Jackson Browne has said far more eloquently:

“Into a dancer you have grown, From a seed somebody else has thrown, Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own, And sometime between the time you arrive and the time you go, May lie a reason you were alive, but you’ll never know.”



Winemaker’s Postscript

It is still our intention to host a celebration at the winery to mark our milestones as we hinted at in the last newsletter.  With all of the 25th Vintage wines being released by spring 2022, this seems to be the ideal time. Once we have some certainty on dates we will be sure to be in touch.

Cheers Blair