THE FRANC de FERRIERE FAMILY HISTORY from 1992 until today 

Although the potential of Carbonneau was apparent during those first years, life was anything but easy for a young family. After a sunny beginning in August 1992, September gave way to weeks of pouring rain and the courtyards which had become over-grown with grass turned into a sea of mud. Heating was an issue. Apart from a wood stove in the kitchen and several open fireplaces the first years were chilly ones. Central heating only appeared three years later. Luckily the grandparents both in France and in New Zealand made sure that regular ‘Red Cross’ packages arrived filled with warm pyjamas, socks, cassoulet and other goodies.

With no income from the farm, the priority was to turn Carbonneau back into a working unit. Wilfrid, already a qualified Agricultural Engineer was eligible for government help as a ‘Young Farmer’ and in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture worked out a plan that would set the property back on its feet again. However, this took several attempts and it wasn’t until part of the project involved welcoming tourists that the figures looked promising. We were in reality the first ‘agro-tourism’ project to be validated by the Department in Gironde. Meanwhile, to keep the wolf from the door Jacquie sold children’s smocked clothing and gave piano lessons–  skills of self-respecting New Zealander!

Our first job was to learn how to look after the few vines we actually owned and armed with secateurs, we tackled the somewhat daunting task of pruning. Our efforts were very much encouraged by all our neighbors, delighted to see the property lived in once again. After two years delivering grapes to the local cooperative the old winery was cleared of 100 years of collected rubbish and 1996 saw the first vintage at Carbonneau for a very long time. 2017 will see the launch of our twentieth vintage, with 6 different wines and a world-wide reputation – witness to the perseverance and vision of Wilfrid and his team.

The chateau to in 1992, needed a bit of tender loving care. Although the roof had been replaced, the house counted one and a half working bathrooms, ancient plumbing and some dubious 1970’s decorating efforts. We decided under the circumstances to rent the main part of the chateau as a ‘Gite’ (self-catering). Our first guests arrived in the summer of 1993 and the money earnt was quickly spent on wall paper and paint. With four young children and a farm to run, decorating often started after 9pm once every one was tucked up in bed and continued far into the night – thankfully we were young! It quickly became a success and after 5 years we were booked from the beginning of May until the end of October non-stop. However, having up to 15 people in one’s house behaving as if was their own began to take its toll and in 2000 we decided that it was time to change tack and our Bed and Breakfast was born.

 


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17 years later, tourists play a huge part in the success of Chateau Carbonneau. Our five comfortable guest rooms, large swimming pool and 2 hectares of park gardens are ideal for a relaxing few days in the tranquility of the countryside. We have won several national and international awards for our accommodation and appeared in numerous magazine articles and even in a 40-minute television programme dedicated to the Bordeaux region.

 

Our latest project is a Salon de Thé and Wine bar where guests and members of the public can enjoy homemade cakes and scones or farm platters accompanied of course by glasses of Chateau Carbonneau. Chateau Carbonneau is all about projects and with four young Franc de Ferrières all becoming involved in various aspects of our business – wine-making, marketing, tourism – the future is assured.

 

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