There’s more to offshore investing than stockmarkets and shares. It’s also about the lifestyle – sitting back with a glass of wine and your little piece of offshore paradise. It’s a lovely fantasy, but it’s a lot more accessible than you may imagine – you can own a vineyard (or at least a small part of one) in one of the best wine-growing regions in the world from as little as R3,000.
Okay, it’s not really an investment at all; it’s basically a way of crowdfunding wine farms by offering ‘investors’ a fabulous experience. But, like any ‘investment’, some are better than others. Some include a case of wine and/or a chance to be involved in the wine-making process, and even designing your own wine labels, but they all offer you an opportunity to gaze upon your little row of vines and dream.
Domaine de la Queyssie, just outside Bergerac in Dordogne, offers you the opportunity to visit the estate to ‘inspect’ your vines and do a personal wine tasting, as well as all the wine from ‘your’ vines – with your own label if you like. And you also get a nifty ‘title deed’, which may not be that exciting in itself, but does make it great if you’re buying this as a gift. It’s valid for one year, which means one harvest.
French wine tour operator Gourmet Odyssey offers a choice of six vineyards in some of France’s best wine-growing regions. Your purchase of anything from six to 36 vines comes with a great little hamper and voucher that you can hand over as the initial gift, and the year’s lease includes a number of wine experience days in which you and a guest can take part in harvesting, wine making, etc. And, naturally, you receive one bottle of wine for each of your vines – with a personalised label of course.
If you want to be part of a certified organic, biodynamic wine farm, Chateau Feely in southwest France offers three levels of vine ‘ownership’, all of which give you the opportunity to get your feet dirty by stomping on grapes during the harvest.
Yes, they do grow vines and make wine in the UK, and you can be a part of it.
‘Owning’ a row of vines at Chapel Down entitles you to unlimited visits to picnic among your vines while you monitor their progress, the opportunity to assist in harvesting your grapes, and a fabulous lease-holder event where you get to taste ‘your’ wine, enjoy a great meal and meet your ‘neighbours’. And, of course, a case or two of ‘your’ wine with a personalised label.
a’Beckett’s Vineyard in Wiltshire, which offers one- or three-year leasing options on a row of chardonnay or pinot noir, also grows apples and makes cider – and produces honey from grape- and apple-drunk bees. You get a significant discount when purchasing wine from the vintage in which you held a lease.
Shiraz Republic offers a pretty hands-on experience. Once you’ve ‘purchased’ your vines for the year you can, of course, visit them whenever you like for – you know – a motivational chat, but the best part is in February/March when you can get down and dirty and take part in the harvesting and crushing (no dancing on grapes unfortunately), and learn about the wine-making process. You get to bottle (and label) your own Syrah – what a pleasure.
Renting a row of vines at Austin Wines includes five catered wine-making workshops throughout the year, 24 bottles of personalised pinot noir, a hands-on learning experience while ‘making’ ‘your’ wine, and a starter pack filled with wine-relevant goodies.
You can adopt (not lease, adopt) a row of vines at Sant’Appiano in the classic wine region of Chianti in Tuscany. Just saying that brings up images of autumnal-red grape vines, plump olives, crisp ciabatta, golden olive oil and – of course – deep red Chianti wine. Once you have chosen your vines, and completed the adoption formalities, you may visit the farm, tend to your vines, learn about them, and take part in their care. Pruning is from January to March, tying from March to April and, in September, the harvest! All topped off, finally, by the sharing of your personalised bottles of wine with friends and family.
United States of America
When you adopt a row of vines at Thatch Winery near Charlottesville, Virginia, you get a personalised plaque at the end of the row, and a commemorative photograph with you and your adopted vinelets. You can take part in the harvesting, learn about wine making, and you get free wine tasting, tickets to the harvest festival, and discounts on any other purchases.
Situated in Los Carneros, in California’s famed Napa Valley, Carneros della Notte is named for the fact that they do all their harvesting at night – and they even have glow-in-the-dark labels on their wine bottles, so you can drink it in the dark too. Renting a chemical-free row of pinot noir vines entitles you to regular visits and some (supervised) hands-on work, including night harvesting, which culminates in a night harvest party. (Hmm, probably a good thing the labels glow in the dark – that way you’re unlikely to lose your wine.)