Russ Broughton spent over 26 years as an engineer, first in robotics with Ford Motor Co, then working in the container port industry as engineering manager, both at Southampton and London Gateway on the Thames.
So what are you doing on a vineyard?
"My sister Karen moved to the island nearly 20 years ago and I'd visit her and her family when I could. They had a lovely house in Ventnor looking out over the bay. On one occasion it was a wet day and I'd drunk more red wine by 3pm than I needed to make sensible decisions. Reading through the local newspaper, there was an ad, "Vineyard for sale".
Oh dear.....unexpected life changing moment!!!! ...I only came over to see my family, not change my career and everything within my comfort zone!
We had no plans anyway, so with the rain easing on the Sunday, we drove over out of pure curiosity. "seriously, this was just rediculous"!
Unless you had visited the vineyard back then, it is hard to describe what we arrived to. Total beauty, or complete rundown mess?? A bit of both really in my mind. But having renovated a few properties, built a house, garage and a couple of cars from scratch... this was an unmisable opportunity.
So, time for the sensible reality check. I mean, how many people would change their life without scrutinising every last downfall of change, and then usually do nothing because it's... well, safer right?
1. Am I an experienced commercial wine maker?....NO!! Well, I say no, but I was bought a home brew kit at Christmas when I was 19, so lets not write that off just yet.
2. Do you understand the complex art of successful viticulture?..... Had a nice rose growing up my wall in Chandlers Ford, but..well, probably a no again!
3. Good customer skills and ability to run a small commercial kitchen?... OK, had a life working on machines without faces, but I make a mean curry!!! ... Its another NO isn't it?!
4. Fancy buying something that was a part of the whole English Wine revival. A vineyard that was so good in the 70's it held the enviable Gore Brown trophy for English wine. Having the opportunity to feel alive again every time you wake up??....Hell yes, I'll learn the rest, where are the papers!!
Getting a mortgage is easy as long as it matches your salary. Gaining finance for a commercial venture, based on previous turnover not so. Six banks and 2 years later (and a clever sister come global finance director) secured an achievable 5 year business plan and financial agreement. Oh blimey, this is really happening!!
July 2013, move day. Goodbye salary, pension, private health care, Chandlers Ford...and my 55a Porsche Spyder! Still getting over that one :-( NOT!
In 2 days, with help from my dad Geof and my uncle Ken, we painted the whole frontage, ripped out the dilapidated greenhouse and put up the new entry signs. We were ready to open, Aug 1st 2013.