These past two weeks have gone by faster than any summer holiday (name that film) and I have had a few ups and downs……
Let’s start with the ups. The first part of the week was spent sourcing wines, one of the best parts of my jobs. Especially when you turn up to a place like Diegale. The drive in is one that has to be seen to be believed, bumpy, bouncy roads that end at a big rust coloured gate which needs you to push a button to gain entry. Being in a right hand drive Land Rover I have to climb across the car to push the button, but that’s all part of the charm, or so I keep telling myself…
Diegale is a beautiful winery which is set on 40 hectares of land, 16 hectares of that land are used to produce the Diegale wines. The rest of the organic grapes are sold off to other organic producers in the area. Alessandro and his wife Paola, with their help of their son Gabriele run the farm which they built up after Alessandro left the tobacco industry and wanted to do a different kind of work so that he could see his kids growing up. There stand out wine for me was their 2014 Pinot Noir, which as anyone that knows me, knows I’m an absolute fiend for Pinot Noir. After lunch and wine we smoked cigars, I mean, what else would you do with a guy that used to work in the tobacco industry but sit on the patio and smoke a cigar and talk about the other local wine producers…?
Next, we got in the 4×4 Fiat Panda with the dogs and headed down to the river to see where the Vermentino grows and where the family swim in on the really hot days. We pretty much laughed all the way down there as we got bounced about in the car on the bumpy road, with Alessandro telling me that the Panda was the first car he bought when he got the farm and is still his best car; which made it all the more brilliant that I then had to sit and wait for him to come round and open the door for me as the handle was missing.
All in all, this was a stand out day for me. I felt so welcome as did Jackson, well apart from their old dog Bo who took a strong disliking to Jax, but that was an old dog making a young male know his place.
The major event was our Indiegogo campaign coming to an end last week; and what an experience that was. During the six weeks of the campaign, I was on the phone daily to three people who made up my team; my friend Kim who runs an online marketing business called Traffic Jam Media http://trafficjammedia.co/, and was helping me market the business the best I could with the limited budget I had. My long suffering friend Hayley who owns and runs Minki design- https://www.minkidesign.com/ was also receiving daily calls and rants; she created and manages my website as well as doing all the graphic design work I need and is the voice of reason when I get stressed about the business. Last at the end of the phone, but by no means least, was Cari. Cari joined my business just after it had launched and she helps me make sense when I am trying to communicate with the outside world. With an extensive background in marketing and PR, she has been a huge asset to the business and she has been an incredible sounding board for my ideas.
The Indiegogo campaign was a real rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish, including stress, worry, excitement and elation. The campaign gave me a lot to think about – it was a bit of a microcosm of my life as it stands right now; I wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out but I pushed through with determination, even during the dark, anxious 3am moments that had me panicking that I wasn’t going to make the target, but we did make it, and even exceeded our expectations. So on we go, the next phase of the business; getting the wine to the people back in the UK.
We finished last week with a cherry festa in Montegiovi which was managed by my good friend Samuele. Now the summer is here in the Maremma region of Tuscany there are festa’s on almost every weekend. But it was a somber time for me as the city I once called home had been attacked by terrorists. I found it so hard to fathom as I sat there with Jackson in a remote mountain village watching kids and adults playing a funny game that Sam had created and the locals fighting over a giant ham as they didn’t agree with the judge’s decision. It all seemed so disconnected from the rest of the world, which I loved the feeling of but also made me sad that everyone couldn’t love the simple things in life like all the people I was surrounded by; seeing grown men argue about the height a ham is hanging from the floor is enough to make you forget all the troubles in the world.
I have to tell you how my week ended as it’s just too good to leave out:
Friday night saw me at the local bar in Cinigiano, having an emergency midnight consultation with the local doctor on call. Yes, this is really how you see the G.P in rural Italy. This surreal scenario was the result of ignoring six weeks of trapped nerve pain in my shoulder, and timing being everything, as soon as the Indiegogo campaign had finished, the nerve had enough of being ignored and shot a lightening bolt of pain through my head at one in the morning. Cue an emergency call to the doctor the next day. Thankfully Stavros was on hand, and is as excellent a translator as he is a wine-maker and olive oil producer.
It’s experiences like this that have made me love being here in Italy even more. How many people can say they were diagnosed by the on call GP in a pub on a Friday night at midnight via a Greek translating Italian to English!?
This is what this whole business is about for me; I am not just some faceless company based in the UK selling you wine. I am living and breathing the life here and it’s why it makes Jackson & Seddon a unique business and one we would love for you to be involved in and support as best you can.