herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Dublin mum loves new life as winemaker

THIS Dublin mum and her family who gave up their seaside home in Killiney and set up their own vineyard in France are now reaping the benefits.

Despite the steep learning curve, frustrating bureaucracy and a near-severed finger, Caro Feely says she is glad she pursued her dream.

Caro and her husband, Sean, left Ireland in 2004 for a simpler life in France.

Following a shaky start filled with bureaucracy, Caro and Sean (both 43) say they have no regrets about upping sticks and moving daughters Sophie and Ellie to Saussignac in south-west France.

Caro lived in Dublin for 10 years where Sean worked as an investment banker and they lived in the plush Dublin suburb of Killiney.

But in 2004 they decided to sell their house and put their life savings into vineyard in the Dordogne -- a decision that would transport them to a hard and isolated farming life in the countryside.

Caro, originally from South Africa, told the Herald: "It was something we had dreamed of doing for a long time; we'd thought of wine farming 20 years ago. We moved to Dublin, but we still had it in our heads.

"I was on maternity leave after the birth of our second daughter and we saw the property come up for sale.

"At the time Sean was extremely stressed working in investment banking and I think he needed to get out or he was going to have a heart attack."

The couple had no idea of the property crash that would happen a few years later and they consider themselves lucky now.

"We sold our property in Dublin and the speed of the transaction helped, because with such a life decision ... if the sale hadn't happened so quickly, we might have changed our minds."

Caro and Sean have developed their own range of organic and biodynamic wines.

"We thought following our dream could be good. So we did night classes in French and wine farming in Dublin."

"We knew farming was going to be tough so we needed to be passionate about it if we were going to take a risk."

"We absolutely love our life. There's no way you could do it if you didn't love it."

"There have been many times when we've thought of moving to the city, particularly when we're working constantly and the finances are low. Here it's work is life and life is work."

"It's something we're building for the future. We certainly won't put pressure on our children to take it over, but it motivates us to think that this is going to be there for generations to come.

"We certainly don't make the money we made or could make in they city; just like many farmers we scrape by, and we're at the whim of the weather, but we love it."

hnews@herald.ie

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