Following a Dream to make wine in France at PumpjackPiddlewick

It all happened rather suddenly actually. Travelling the world, moving from hemisphere to hemisphere, following summer, making wine. Following a dream?

The Yin and Yang

Idyllic in many ways. Always warm, generally sunny, long days. Living in amazing places like Northern Spain, New Zealand and California.

Not just visiting new cultures, but actively participating. Trying new food, learning new currencies, and understanding new accents and colloquialisms.

The difficulties were more like hassles. Living out of suitcases. Finding new places to live. Sorting transport. They were easily outweighed by the good. There were long hours of 12 hour shifts, 6 to 7 days (or nights) a week. This is the norm during harvest. But the experience gained was undeniable.

Looking to Possibilities

During the harvest we seem to spend our free time either sleeping or looking toward the next harvest. The next winery. The next job.  However, for ourselves, with each place we worked, we also looked at the land and the possibilities of settling and managing our own vineyard. 

Northern Spain, it was to be the Somontano region in the foothills of the Pyrenees, that interested us most. New Zealand, it was the southern end of the North Island. California, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.

We did a lot of driving around, looking at vineyards and grape varieties. We scoured the internet for sales of land. Talked to locals in the hopes of an inside scoop. But nothing showed its hand. And nothing really called to us. It was like trying to fit the proverbial square peg in the round hole.


The Dream had always been France. In particular Burgundy, Pumpjack’s Mecca. We were always looking in that direction, but just couldn’t figure out how to get there.  Our French was almost non-existent, yet was needed to truly work in France.

Still, we took steps whenever we could. We purposefully took a house sitting in Southern France in a gap of time between Spain and New Zealand. We went to work on our French. And took the opportunity to get a better feel for the culture.

Patience pays

We were in California when our opportunity arose. We’d determined that California was not the place for us to live and make wine. I was time to look towards the ‘next’.

As usual France topped the list and applications were going out. And then, purely by chance, we saw a long term house sitting come up near Chablis. House sittings rarely come up in Burgundy.

Following a Dream

It didn’t matter that no job was lined up, that we knew no one. We would literally start from a blank piece of paper. It just seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. At the very least, it would put us in the right area to get the lay of the vineyard land, meet people and improve our French.

We applied and the response was immediate. An online interview done and suddenly in a matter of days we were leaving California and heading to France. For the winter.  It felt insane, yet exhilarating. We had taken our first step forward on the path of our following our dream.

What happens next?

Finding a vineyard in France (series)

Little Moments of Life in France

What we have discovered about French Culture

Shop Wine Lover Gifts in our Shop

As wine makers ourselves, we are always on the search for interesting, unique and particularly French wine items for our vintage and antiques shop. Here’s a taste of some of the things we have found:

[hoot_slider id=”7555″]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.