Jane Awty – Oatley Vineyard

Name Jane Awty

Job within the wine trade: Partner in small vineyard growing English wine in Somerset

How long have you been in this role/wine trade? 34 years

What made you want to get in to this area of work and what drives you to stay in it? We were a family with 3 young children in NW6 with corporate jobs, an allotment and a yen to do something different. Something with land, in the country. We read a book about English wine and thought YESS’ we’ll have a go.

After a year of looking for a suitable vineyard site we could afford from the proceeds of our house we found beautiful Oatley, near Cannington in Somerset, with a perfect field of SE sloping, well drained, red sandy loam, and set about planting.

That was 34 years ago and we’re still here. It’s a great life. Varied, interesting, lovely, idiosyncratic people in English wine, it’s mostly outdoors. It’s been brilliant to be pioneers in a developing wine region. The southwest is mostly family vineyards like us, passionate about growing and making interesting individual wines of the best quality they can.

Now we’re in our 70s and our son and his young family are planning in turn to chuck n the corporate life to take over and develop Oatley further and being their kids up in the country too. 

What is your wine career highlight? Delighted to have won 4 gold medals for 3 different wines in the last year! That’s quite a haul for a tiny vineyard like ours and though we’ve won silvers, we’ve never won golds till now.

If someone wanted to get in to the wine industry, what would your advice be? For a small vineyard, under 20 ha, you need an additional income, either by working away from the business, which is what we did, or by developing tourism/wine education as an extra source of income.

5 quick fire questions – Up Close and Personal!

1. Favourite food and wine match? Varies but at the mo Saussignac and Roquefort 

2. Have you got tattoos if so, how many.. if not, are you tempted? No and no! Maybe a generational thing?

3. What did you want to be when you were growing up? Vet, then research scientist.

4. What is your favourite season? May, when the fields and hedges are fringed with cow parley and may blossom.

5. If you had 3 wishes, what would they be? For the vineyard, that it keeps developing as a happy family business, for the wines well , an international trophy of course! And lastly that it stops raining so the 2020 English vintage is another stellar one!