As has become our practise, Andrew and I like to visit a wine region elsewhere in the world each year to learn, be inspired and hopefully come home full of renewed vigour for our own endeavour here at Iona. And believe you me, it takes a big person after visiting Burgundy, not to come home completely depressed, but comparisons are odious…… especially when it comes to wine prices!
This year we spent a fantastic 10 days in Piedmont in Italy, home of Nebbiolo, walking Alba-to-Alba, which is a circular trek through Barbaresco, Alta Langhe, Barolo and ending up again in Alba. Like the name Piedmont (Foot Mountain) suggests there are only two walking directions and that is seriously uphill or knee-damaging down dale. Thank heavens the area is littered with Cellars offering reviving wine-tastings, as a few of the more challenging slopes had at least one of us contemplating divorce, and being lost most of the time led to a rather impressive, if unintentional average of 28 km’s a day. The tractors here all have caterpillar “wheels” for a jolly good reason. There was no shortage of energy though when it came to our visits with producers, and we fell in love with the Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Arneis varietals in all their various styles. One of the most rewarding things about the wine industry is the fantastic people you meet and Piedmont was no exception. I love it that at the top end it is a sphere of agricultural endeavour that is driven by quality, an attempt to produce something authentic and with a sense of place. Where aesthetics, taste, smell, family and culture all play a vital part. (We are looking to replant a half hectare of Shiraz which wasn’t up to scratch for the One Man Band and of course now it just has to be Nebbiolo!) The blend might just get a whole lot more interesting…….
On the home front we are trying to refine what it is that we do here at Iona. I like to think that I have remained true to my mantra -Small is Beautiful - and with that in mind, we wish to take this relatively small family business to a higher level, not a bigger one. Up until now, the backbone of the business has rightly so been our main focus – i.e.: the grapes, the wine, our staff, the sales and distribution and the admin. We would now like to indulge ourselves in upgrading the aesthetics of the business, our webpage, our home, our labels, our social media and our public offerings such as Open Gardens and Special Wine weekends and events. This can be as fine a detail as improving the paper upon which we print our labels or the colour of the ink used, the driveway or the layout of our new Sauvignon vineyard. Our website is undergoing a major revamp and our intention is to bring Iona and what it is that we do here closer to you via hundreds of new images and updated information. Our offerings in terms of Open Gardens and wine weekends will in future be smaller, more personal and offer the kind of wine experience which we believe would do you and our wines more justice.
To all in the Iona family, thank you for your untiring dedication and loyalty and expertise. You are all so good at your jobs, our regard for each one of you is enormous and heartfelt and without you, our customers we wouldn’t have a business, thank you for your ongoing support!
Grazie mille, tenere bene!