Domaine Treloar is a truly artisan operation. It's this hands-on approach that differentiates us from most other producers.
It is owned and operated by Englishman Jonathan Hesford and his Kiwi wife, Rachel Treloar. Rachel's Maori and Cornish ancestry is reflected in our logo.
Jonathan is a qualified Viticulturist and Oenologist. He graduated top of his class at Lincoln University, New Zealand's premiere wine academy.
He was then employed for 2 years as the assistant winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards, one of the most highly regarded wineries in New Zealand.
In the vineyard we do everything ourselves, including pruning, spraying, trimming, ploughing, mowing and picking. We hire a couple of people to help with pruning and a team of about 15 for the harvest.
Each year we take students from Plumpton College in England to give them some experience of working on a real domaine.
In the winery Jon does all the jobs, from cleaning the tanks and barrels to performing the analysis. This ensures that all is done to his own high standards.
We only make wine from grapes that we grow in our vineyards. In France this is known as being a Recoltant, rather than a Negociant, who buys in grapes and wine from outside sources.
We are members of Vignerons Independants, who represent the independent producers who grow, make and bottle their wine at the domaine.
The Full Story
I (Jonathan) was born in England but spent my early years in the Basque region of Spain, where I was introduced to wine at fiestas and in the bodegas of Rioja. My parents returned to their home town of Barnsley where I went to school until moving up the M1 to study Physics at Leeds University. In my spare time I was an officer in the TA.
I did a brief stint as a seismologist, searching for oil in Somalia and Papua New Guinea before choosing a more sensible career in IT where I designed command and control systems for submarines and then built the first generation of electronic trading sytems for Merrill Lynch.
Rachel is from Levin, near Wellington in New Zealand where she was a tax officer. She developed her love of wine visiting the nearby wineries of Martinborough.
We met while working together in London. After a whirlwind romance we got married and moved to New York where we spent 3 exciting years and had our first child, Lydia, in 2000.
On 11 September 2001, we were living one block away from the World Trade Center. After seeing both planes crash into the buildings from a few hundred metres, we left our apartment with what we could carry. In the aftermath of that disaster, we lost our home, my job and our right to live in the States.
The experience made us think about what really mattered in our life. We wanted a different environment for our children. We wanted to have more control over our direction and to spend our time working at something that truly motivates us.
Owning a vineyard is an idea that many wine lovers dream about but we wanted to do it right. I took a short course at Plumpton College in the UK and then volunteered at Halfpenny Green Vineyards in Staffordshire for 6 months to get my hands dirty and make sure I was really suited to the work. I loved it!
We then chose to go to New Zealand for 3 years to study Viticulture and Winemaking and to work for other high quality vineyards.
I came top of my course in Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University. During my time there I learnt a lot of practical skills and got some sound advice working part-time for Grant and Helen Whelan at Kaituna Valley, a small estate who had just won the Air New Zealand Trophy for their first two vintages of Pinot Noir.
After graduating in 2003, I was offered the role of Assistant Winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson, one of the country's most highly regarded producers.
Under the guiding hand of Tim Finn, I learned hands-on how to make some of the world's top wines through a combination of best practice in the vineyard and a mixture of modern and traditional winemaking techniques.
The 2004 Moutere Chardonnay that I made there is regarded by Bob Cambell MW as the best Chardonnay ever produced in New Zealand.
During that time, we had our second daughter, Issy, in 2004.
Even though we enjoyed life in New Zealand, we decided to return to Europe to start our own business.
Excited by the great wines being made by other pioneering producers, we decided upon the Languedoc-Roussillon in the South of France.
In April 2005, I spent a month travelling around the region, speaking to other winemakers and looking at the landscape, soils, towns and villages to decide which area suited them best - and tasting the wines of course!
We decided that the Roussillon came top of our list. In September 2005 we moved our children to France and started looking for the ideal spot. The requirements were very specific and we were lucky to find a property that met all our desires - even if it needed a huge amount of work.
In January 2006 we bought an ancient winery and several parcels of mature vines around the village of Trouillas in the Aspres region of the Roussillon in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Encouraged by the flavour and reputation of close neighbours such as Domaine Vaquer, La Cazenove and Domaine Ferrer-Ribiere, as well as the generally high quality of the cooperatives, we felt this area most suited our dreams.
We started work pruning our vines, renovating the winery and building our home within the cave itself.
I took French 'O' level, taught by Joanna Harris' mother, and had kept up my French but Rachel only knew 2 words - "Bonjour" and "Au revoir". We took some lessons and got stuck in. Our children went to the village schools and are pretty much bilingual.
So are we living the dream?
I suppose it appears that way to outsiders but running a wine producing estate on your own is not a cushy job. It is a huge amount of work and leaves little time for leisure. However it is varied, healthy and fulfilling. We wouldn't swap it for our old lives.