David & Donald Ealand
Chiltern Valley Vineyard, Oxfordshire
Ex city maritime lawyer David bought Old Luxters pig Farm in the Hambleden valley near Henley on Thames in 1980 and soon abandoned the pigs and planted his first vineyard in 1982. Following the first small harvest in 1984, the year Donald was born, Chiltern Valley wines went on to gather dozens of national and international awards from 1988. Old Luxters Farm Brewery was set up in 1990 and in 2007 became the first microbrewery to be granted the Queen’s Royal Warrant.
From a very early age Donald showed a quite remarkable interest in the vineyard and all aspect of the production process such that by the early 2000’s he worked full time, becoming General manager around 2005 and a full partner in the business in 2016. He is married to Lucie who since 2013 has run the events side of the business here in Old Luxters barn. They have three lovely children.
What’s it like working together?
DAVID: "A happy mix of pride to hand over a successful family enterprise with the privilege of being able watch the business continue to grow, help when needed and offer advice when requested. Most of all it is still hugely rewarding and fun to work together."
DONALD: “Well if you’ve ever worked with, or spent a long time with a best friend you would have an idea what it is like, Dad and I get on incredibly well and have done for all my 35 years. Having a loving and strong relationship makes us running our business together a solid starting point for sure. It is a really fun place to be together and making decisions together over the years amongst our exciting, busy and often challenging times has gained us both respect for each other and strength in our ongoing business relationship. Bring on many more years of working together the future has in our business I say.”
What have you learnt from your Dad – how has he inspired you? What has he taught you?
DONALD: "I have always looked up to my Father and what he has achieved not only at Old Luxters and it hugely diversified business model that has grown and grown since 1980 but his life and huge achievements 30/40 years prior to taking on this challenge of initially just planting a small Vineyard. I have learnt in fact a number of things really but most of all to take advise from people as well as using your own skills and mind set too to execute the task in hand. We always like working something out together – 2 brains are then working you see! We are a team. One thing I have certainly learnt is you can more or less do anything when you put your mind and efforts towards that task or challenge. This has given me over the years the eagerness and huge energy to take on our wonderful family business and give it its fresh ‘young blood’ to move it forward in the directions we would like it to go.”