“Trois maisons, Monsieur Stannard! trois Maisons!” (Three houses, Mr Stannard, three houses!) exclaimed Monsieur Dados dramatically as he welcomed me into his home. And all this before I could even say “Bonjour” or shake his hand. The Dados family were our westerly neighbours, separated by a 50 year old block of vines, living in an old farmhouse – the oldest property in the hamlet.
Monsieur was a fourth generation farmer / vigneron on his land which included the block of vines that stood between us and had been replanted in 1957, following the mega frost the previous year. Since his retirement, this old vine block of vines had been rented out to the local “big commercial chateau”. His love and care had been replaced by more machinery and an increased level of chemical management. It showed!
I was just glad to be “home” (on holiday) in Cardan but I was about to get a full local village news update on what I had missed in the preceding eleven months. As I appreciated the Dados family hospitality over a large couple glasses of of home made ‘pineau’ (grape juice and eau de vie), the news wasn’t pretty. A housing development tsunami was under way. Our village was changing. The possibility was there that its complete heritage and viticultural history might disappear under the shadow of its 12th century church as our local rural community watched on – powerless to stop it.
Our neighbours to the east of our property were downsizing and sub-dividing their land. Hence the possibility of the three houses on the adjacent land which, despite a small laneway in between, would have been easily able to overlook our rural property. We bought the land.
Just prior to the final local legal settlement of the purchase contract, the vendors and I carried out a quick final property inspection. The last part of this process involved a joint check reading of the water meter to our new property. As we completed the check, the vendor asked what I was planning to do with my new purchase. I must have looked confused by the question – beyond my lack of French comprehension – as he continued with his line of thought and questioning. “Can I advise you David” he continued, “Make a good job of what you do on this land because when you next return, there will be six new houses on the vineyard block outside your front gate”.
The vineyard to which he was referring sits between two hamlets at the outside of the village and is overlooked by the 12th century village church. When the sun sets behind that church, it is an unbelievable sight as it radiates orange light across the community below it. It is a privilege to live in a rural community with this depth of history. This potential development would effectively completely ruin the rural nature of our village, block our neighbours’ direct line of sight to the church and create a small suburb out of the village.
It was time to decide whether to shut up (and leave) or put up (and get serious). That Rubicon River moment had arrived. We decided. We crossed. Paradise Rescued was born and our Sustainability Mission defined.
A brand is the story telling of an organization. This is how our brand and organization started.
At the start, the vineyard overlooked by the old church more closely resembled a cabbage patch than a prestige Bordeaux vineyard. With immediate implementation of a hands-on organic viticulture programme, this special block of vines in the heart of the community has been recovered, sustained and taken to a new level of award winning quality. Today it is home to our Paradise Rescued B1ockOne Cabernet Franc – just one of a handful of full varietal CabFranc’s produced in the world-renowned Bordeaux wine region.
The vines between Monsieur Dados and ourselves were finally purchased two years later. Those “Old Block” Merlot vines are now 60 years old and with similar vine-to-vine loving care from our team, they are once again producing amazing Merlot wine. And watching over the growth of a newly replanted Merlot vineyard alongside them.
A tradition has been continued, a village heritage sustained, and a new legacy begun.
In partnership with Winalist, Paradise Rescued will open its doors to the public from March 1st 2018. Come visit us, see and taste what has been achieved.
Read more of the sustainability story that created brand Paradise Rescued in David Stannard’s books “From Cabbage Patch Patch to Cabernet Franc” and “It’s Not About the Dirt”. Join Club Paradise Rescued today and follow / support our sustainability progress.
Also published on Medium.