Rediscovering the Potential of a Vineyard, Winery and House
One evening in the autumn of 2008, we arrived at the gates of Chateau Grange Cochard with a large bag of keys. It was dark as the meeting to complete the purchase had overrun. The house was cold. There was no heating or hot water. Switching on more than one or two lights caused the electricity to trip. The house had been shut up for years, the furniture all covered in dozens of dust sheets.
We had spent some years searching for the ideal estate and in Chateau Grange Cochard we had found everything we were after: top-class terroir and vineyard, a long and impressive heritage, but requiring energy, investment and love.
Despite our largely irrelevant backgrounds (Sarah ex-architect, James ex-troubled business specialist), the whole point of the project was to do as much of the work in the vineyard and winery as possible. We do nearly all the work in the winery and cellars, and much of the tractor work in the vineyard. We also rely heavily on Denis Garod who was born (as was his father and grandfather) in the farmhouse on the estate, and has an intimate understanding and knowledge of the vines.
After we arrived, we discovered that James’ ancestors had planted the very first vineyard in South Africa in the seventeenth century (his mother’s maiden name is de Villiers), so it must be in the blood!
The following few months were extraordinary we had already detailed plans as to what we wanted to do, in the winery and in the house. New equipment and systems were installed including every wire pipe and drain in the house, and two eco heating and cooling systems.
Images of sitting on the terrace in the sunshine sipping our wine proved to be all too rare, but this new life is uplifting and exciting. We are fortunate and honoured to be the custodians of this magnificent domaine.