As far back as we can go, my family has made or sold alcohol. This is my grandfather with a bunch of regulars outside the pub he ran in Huntingdon, England where my mum and I were born. It was the end of WW2 and everyone had gathered outside to celebrate.
The family name, Spencer, derives from “despenser,” the servant whose job it was to select and store booze for the lord of the manor. We are indeed a family of happy tipplers (or put another way, wine likes us as much as we like wine)… not sure if that is the reason or the cause of our ancestral livelihood! But with my generation, it looked as if tradition was drawing to a close; my brother works for a wood care company and I studied international communications at university beginning my career with the British Council in Jerusalem, moving from there into the West Bank and teaching drama and filmmaking to Palestinian children.
Four years of earnest and worthy social work later, I was burned out and cynical, so I moved back to London. At a party, I almost decided not to go to, I met the International Winemaker of Mystery…
At that time, Aaron was working as Beringer’s flying winemaker, overseeing wine production in France, Italy and Chile. As luck would have it, Easy Jet had just opened a route from London to Carcassonne, where Aaron was based. Suddenly I was flying to Southern France for long weekends, or meeting him in Paris. Well, you can just imagine: the romantic locations, the food, the WINE! Impossible to resist, and ten years later, here we are beginning the winery we dreamed of those nights in those medieval cities under the stars.
My mum is delighted that we are carrying on the family trade, and still thinks it’s an excuse to get around the piano for a “knees up”. Easy there, mum! But you know what? She’s also right. For me, wine isn’t just a beautifully expressive living treasure, it’s a keystone of social harmony and human happiness. We honor that every time we toast a bride, or wet the baby’s head, or just have one of those wonderful, evening-long rambling conversations that bring you closer. It makes me proud and happy to think that our wine can contribute to – or cause – those special moments.