Bureaucracy, holidays and wine lots of wine.

Tourist season is in full flow here in Tuscany, we have had quite a few visitors over the past few weeks which means there has been lots of driving and lots of content for social media.

As the last couple of weeks have passed I have been able to start buying all the wine to ship to the UK.  I hit one major snag and that was the entry of the wine into the UK.  The company I was going to use changed from a partnership to a limited company, this meant that HMRC have made them apply for all their import licences again.  So, you can imagine my frustration at finding this out as we were due to start buying wine and shipping it.  Luckily for me serendipity stepped in, in the form of Amelia Singer.  (Who I wrote about meeting in my last blog). She had told me that she would be happy to help if I had any questions about the wonderful world of wine.  So I picked up the phone and told her what had happened and she straight away said that she might know someone that could assist.  She put me on to a friend of hers who simply directed me to a beverage logistics company who were only too happy to help.

This gave me a huge boost and I got straight to work ordering the wine.  Basically the issue is that I couldn’t order wine without an excise number, which meant I was like a race horse; all fired up and ready to go but there was a gate in my way.  That gate has now been removed and I have been working flat out buying wine for the wine club.

One of the wines we are exporting is a wonderful Vino Bianco from Le Marche.  It’s from a guy I met the last time I was over there and his wine is really quite special and I’m very excited to share it.  Getting his wine over to Tuscany – about 250 km away – was a slight challenge as the cost of a courier was extortionate.  Then our agent Carlo offered to drive it over in his car.  To put this into context, Carlo drives a Renault Clio and I had ordered 252 bottles of wine, which meant he basically drove on lowered suspension for three hours from Le Marche to Tuscany.  Once here the wine was moved into the canteen at Stavros’s farm until we can move it to the warehouse with all the other wines.

The competition winners arrived in Friday for their Exclusive Breaks weekend.  It was an experience for them both as Keir had never been to Tuscany and Charly had been a few times before, but not to the Maremma region.   We kicked off with a lovely lunch of cured meat, cheese and antipasti and a glass of local wine.  Then the guys wanted to head back for 40 winks before we went out for dinner.  With this being a holiday, the evening didn’t end until the small hours of the morning.  This means the following morning was a late start, so we took off to the beach at Castiliogne de pascia for a late lunch and a couple of hours sunning on the beach.  That evening we put on our glad rags and had dinner at the restaurant in Castel Porrona.  We were joined by Stavros who let the guys try his incredible wines and olive oil which are all sold by the hotel, so that was a special treat for Keir and Charly.

The Sunday was our wine tour day.  We set off at 10:30 to the first winery, this was an impromptu stop as I needed to talk to one of the producers I work with about delivery, logistics and getting some images of his wines as he boxes them up this week.  Gregorio met us with a glass in hand and told us to take a seat for a tasting.  This was completely unexpected and really quite lovely as I hadn’t planned on a tasting of all of his wines.  We also met an English couple who were staying with Gregorio, seen the TV show Second Chance Tuscany and wanted to ask me a few questions.  The guy actually said “so you’re living here and you are following your dream, it’s not just something the TV people spun, and you’re the only one?”  Yes, yes, yes my friend.

Gregorio took me to one side as we were leaving after tasting all his wonderful wines which I will be importing and he said, “you’re actually famous, these people knew we are friends and they wanted to meet you.  I said you were coming for a meeting and they made sure they were around to meet you”. It was kinda funny and really surreal at the same time.  Having known Keir for quite a few years, he found it extremely funny and decided to call me ‘BBC’s Rob Seddon’ for the rest of the time he was here…..

The rest of the day was lovely and relaxed, a casual day of eating, drinking and talking and laughing with the wonderful wine makers I am becoming friends with from this region.   We ended the day with a beautiful sunset at Stavros’s farm and a tasting before we headed out for our last dinner together.

This was a real learning experience for all involved as the wine makers were so kind and took their time to explain about their wines and the process of production.