The vineyard has been owned and managed by Holly Robbins & James Faulconbridge since 2020, taking the reins from Val and Graham who established the first vines here in 1996. Val is an islander born and bred; after a career on the mainland working as a teacher, she and husband Graham moved back to the island with an ambitious plan to create their own boutique vineyard. They began by planting Reichensteiner and Madeline Angevine vines on land which was originally used by Val's father Derek to produce bulbs and cut flowers, and more varieties quickly followed. The first vintage in 2000 yielded just 120 bottles, but with time and experience Val & Graham have successfully created a productive vineyard and a thriving business, making between 1,500 - 3,000 bottles per year.
In 2018, after 22 years of dedication & hard work, Val and Graham felt the time had come to put down the secateurs and began looking for the next generation of custodians to take on the vineyard. That's where we - Holly and James - come in! After a chance conversation during our visit to the vineyard in 2018, we realised that this was too good an opportunity to miss and in February 2020 we made the move to St Martin's to take on the management of this very special place!
With backgrounds in ecology and agriculture, this is a very new undertaking for us but as keen allotmenteers and amateur wine-makers, we saw an opportunity to combine our passions with an exciting new challenge on St Martin's. We are fortunate to have the expert guidance of Val & Graham who are on hand to pass on their skills and knowledge, and to give us a firm grounding in practical viticulture and wine-making.
We are both enthusiastic and hands-on people and are so excited to have the opportunity to build a life on this beautiful island by developing the vineyard and sharing our passion for sustainable agriculture and the environment with visitors and guests.
James has worked as an Ecologist since 2008 and loves sharing information and raising awareness of our native wildlife - you can follow him @StMartin'sEcologist on Twitter.
Holly is also a qualified Solution Focused Hypnotherapist - you can find out more about this on her Facebook page, Holly Robbins Hypnotherapy.