It's always a delight to find new growers and develop a strong relationship with them; almost becoming a part of their family here in the UK. We specifically look for Artisan, family-based vignerons who survive by the quality of their wines.
To make good wines, their philosophy is first to look after the land as the health of the soil and the surrounding biodiversity supports disease-free vines, reliable pollination and reduces the need for pesticides, as nature looks after itself.
Most of our growers have "Agriculture Biologique" status which means they are committed to following rigourous specifications that favour respect for the ecosystem and animals and non-polluting processes.
They produce wines with reduced or no pesticides and reduced or no sulphites, so once opened, the wines will not last as long as those made using more commercial processes. The 'drinking life' of our wines can be extended however by using a pump to remove the air from the bottles.
The other aspect that our growers pride themselves on is the health and good quality of their vines including the annual lifecycle from planting, pruning, nurturing to picking and blending their wines. Being Artisan growers, their work is manual and labour-intensive and the volume of production is limited; when its gone, its gone.... until next year.
We, Caroline and Andrew, have travelled Europe (France, Italy, Austria, with more to come) not only discovering beautiful wines but amazing stories of perseverance, the constant battle with nature, combatting floods and mildew, and have met the most extraordinary people who have welcomed us into their homes and shown us great kindness. It sounds a bit of a cliché but we have found our extended family. We are in this together, feeling their pain when the frosts come too early or when their cellar is under 3 feet of water and share in their joy when the grapes are so rich and juicy you can just eat them straight off the vine and sink your teeth into little bursts of sunshine.
All of the Secret Wines growers are obsessive about their craft. They work all hours in all weathers because making wine to them is not just about commerce, it is about the satisfaction of understanding their land, its environment and creating wines that are a joy. They are true Artisans.