Billionaire twins to create Channel island vineyard
By Alexander Clare
LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British billionaire twin brothers David and Frederick Barclay plan to create a Bordeaux-style vineyard on the Channel island of Sark.
French winemaker Alain Raynaud told Reuters on Wednesday that he was recruited by the Barclay brothers to plant 40,000 vines on the formerly feudal island which will produce 20,000 bottles of premium home-grown vintage by 2013.
"It was not a question of money but a question of passion," Raynaud told Reuters by telephone when asked why he would attempt to create the island's first modern age vineyard.
After a 10-day site assessment and further six months of testing the suitability of Sark's microclimate and soil, Raynaud agreed to plant a six hectare (15-acre) vineyard, capable of producing still white, sparkling white and red wines that will likely cost between 15 and 20 pounds ($24.41-$32.55) a bottle.
Raynaud said there was potential to develop a great white wine and sparkling wine, but that red would be more difficult on the island, which lies about 6 miles east of Guernsey off the coast of Normandy.
"The Sark vines stand at an elevation of about 100 meters (yards) above sea level and on the same latitude as the Loire," Raynaud said. "But it has the same sun as Bordeaux."
The brothers who own London's Ritz hotel and the Daily Telegraph newspaper also own about a fifth of the land on Sark and half its hotels, according to newspaper reports. They live in a gothic mansion on the nearby islet of Brecqhou.
Planting will begin in April this year. The vineyard will employ five locals and is intended to help Sark develop as a tourist destination, while maintaining its unique character. Continued...