Iain & Ned Awty

Oatley Vineyard, Somerset

Iain and Jane Awty embarked on their English wine dream back in 1985, moving from London with three young children and establishing Oatley Vineyard in Somerset. Oatley produces still white wines which have earned many awards over the years. Son Ned said goodbye to a senior corporate post earlier this year to move his wife and own young family to develop the vineyard that he grew up with.

IAIN: “A delight to know Ned will be following our own journey, opting out of the corporate life and bringing his young family to Oatley. We have “lived the dream”, planting our small vineyard in 1986 and tending it ourselves ever since, and loved it. Ned, his sister and brother grew up here helping me and Jane plant the vines in the early days along with trying our hand with a few hens, geese, sheep, cattle and a succession of dogs, cats and ponies.

I’m looking forward to working together. Ned and Paula had planned to help with pruning this year but that was a casualty of the lockdown. Hoping that as things ease up Jane and I can help look after their 1 year old twins, Edith and Albert, while they apply some youthful vigour to the vineyard.

My happiest childhood hours were at my father’s allotment in Mill Hill growing up after the war. He often said if life was different he’d like to have done something on the land. When I got my chance to change direction, I took it. Now Ned has, too.

We have made our dry white wines as we like to drink them, rather than compromising and aiming for a popular range. It’s a respect for the land thing.  You don’t own it, you are privileged to curate it for a brief moment. I hope that Oatley will continue to make terroir-driven, individual wines. But decisions will soon be handed over to the youngsters and they must make their own way."

NED: “Oatley was an amazing place to grow up. We want the same for the twins. Paula and I have enjoyed corporate-ladder-climbing but we’re both country folk at heart - Paula’s dad is a free-miner in the Forest of Dean. It’s about freedom, nature, and I suppose more outlet for creativity...

I learned from Dad that you follow your dreams, treat people and things with respect and that doing the obvious, following the crowd isn’t always a path to happiness.  Also, if you don’t have a vision of where you want to go, you’ll never get there.

Great wine is made in the field, so we plan to keep the sustainable, terroir-driven approach and add to it with an eye to the future, climate change etc.  The vineyard is over 30 years old and still going strong, so I understand the rewards that knowing your vines and a lot patience can bring.”