Paradiso (ma non troppo)

It took us seven years, from the time my mother painted this little watercolour, above (based on our original plans) to the moment our dream became a reality. And this is how it all shaped up.



collage3.jpgBringing the farm back to life had been a seemingly endless agony. But even at this stage we could not relax, for we were far from being out of the woods.

There were other bleak moments: a calamity with the water supply; discovering dynamite up a chimney; having our road signs stolen; and, worse still, finding the tour operator we were relying on to fill our beds had wildly over-estimated the number of visitors he could send us.

So when at last we opened for business, nobody came.  That's to say, hardly anybody; and those brave enough to make it to our door were in for a treat, for I was discovering something I should have known before all this folly began. My skills as a Tuscan landlord were about on par with Basil Fawlty's. Buongiorno, Basilico Difettoso.

collage6.jpgSeven years had passed with no income, hope dwindling, and disaster looming with the volcano we were sitting on ready to erupt. Just one item kept nagging at us. Even a city boy like me had noticed we were surrounded by a whole lot of plants which grew things called grapes. We had 30 acres of unwanted vines that had been thrown in at no extra cost when we bought the farm. Moi? I knew barely enough about wine to find my way around our local wine shop in London (red on the left, white on the right). What did I know about winemaking, or the magic and mystique that surrounds the business of grape cultivation?

But it was obvious our future was predestined. We had to make wine to survive. We were slowly morphing into accidental winemakers.

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