“After an exhausting 24-hour drive from Germany it was on a cool October night that a tired James arrived. My father had given him two things: the key to the house and one Portuguese word. The key did not fit. So, he only had the word left. When he followed a shimmer of light coming from the wine cellar, he found some jolly locals treading grapes.
They welcomed him with the darkest and most invigorating red wine he had ever tasted and on uttering his word “Chave”, he was let into the house and the adventure started there. My father must have had the apprehension that the key did not fit, but nevertheless the word turned out to be a key to an entirely different life…
James was inspired by the people he had encountered throughout his life—and, also, the countryside, which he was surrounded by at home in England.
I could tell early on that sooner or later James would tackle the farm: and so, in 1999 with lots of optimism on his side and some hesitation on mine we dived into the big adventure of replanting our first vineyards. Hard work, lots of fun, beginners’ luck, frustrating and rewarding harvests: we know it is all part of a winemaker’s life, James is dedicated to it with great vision, fondness and an almost fatherly affection: in the vineyard, the cellar and – of course – in the glass! – Ann
“When, over twenty-seven years ago, we took over the abandoned Quinta de Sant’Ana from Ann’s parents, every corner full of weeds and promise, we had no idea, this was to turn out to be our lifelong project. One thing is for sure: we went into a massive adventure quite blue-eyed, found our way as we went along, took shortcuts and detours and countless belly flops, but looking back, we have had a blast and learned a lot about life.
We always stuck to our creeds of “use common sense” and “good people – good work”. We might have made more business profit over the years had we been less romantic and more focussed on numbers, but there was a family to be brought up, animals to care for, our village community to engage with, celebrations to be held, basically life to be lived, so we have always operated this way.
We are both entrepreneurs at core. We tend to look ahead and around us, have too many creative ideas far too often, cannot sleep from excitedness over a new project. Or sometimes from worry. But when we decide to slow down, there comes another bright opportunity or struggle and more often than not we take up another challenge.” – James
Once upon a time
There was an old, romantic quinta...
This romantic Quinta, bordering with the Tapada de Mafra, (formerly the Portuguese King’s hunting grounds), dates back to 1633 and has been lived in by many different owners from the most varied backgrounds. One thing they shared: a fascination for this place in the rolling hills of the Saloio region, the fertile region where Lisbon’s groceries grew. They all left their footprints adding to the beauty of the Quinta.
“Everything about our childhood was eccentric,” Ann says, “although we didn’t realize it at the time. Ann and her siblings had a blissful childhood at Quinta de Sant’Ana. Many things stayed exactly the same for the next generation, including our beloved nanny Virginia.
to be a father to our seven boys meant, that James was followed around the farm by a growing number of little feet from the minute they could walk. By tractor, motorbike or pony, in the vineyards or in the gardens – I have always felt that James is a picture book father full of patience and love and I am convinced this is the secret for strong roots.
We consider ourselves lucky to live and work in a stunningly beautiful setting that allows us to raise our seven sons in this fascinating corner of the world. Above all, Quinta de Sant’Ana is our family home.