“Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma, I believe everything happens for a reason” Dr Peter Venkman, Ghostbuster

Some people are born into wine. Generations of their family before them have been growing grapes, battling against and working with nature and producing wines, and it is their responsibility to become the custodian of that land and keep it going until their children take it over.

Other people are born into farming and decide to diversify into grape growing and winemaking. This is more common than you may imagine, and is indeed what many families did if you go far back enough. The farmers would have been growing food and rearing animals, but also had some grapes from which they made wine. When they realised that wine was more suited to their land, or when they realised that it was maybe more lucrative to grow grapes, they dug up the carrots and planted Cabernet!

And then there are those that the Ghostbusters quote apply to. These are the visionaries, guided by some unknown force that inspires them to leave their normal life behind, commit to back breaking work, stress, unpredictability and where nature becomes their generous benefactor or cruel dictator. They are the first generation winemakers and here are three with VERY different routes to the wine trade.

Australian Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin is one of these – working in publishing, he was inspired by a bottle of Dujac’s Clos de la Roche and went off to get experience in making wine from all around the world. California, Central Otago and Yarra Valley were three of the stops on his educational trip, before Andrew met Patrick Bize in Burgundy and his fate was sealed. Andrew decided he wanted to make wine in Burgundy, but decided that he was all about small parcel wine. This means that some of his wines may only have two barrels made of them, but across the board from his ‘Du Grappin’ range (fun, daily drinkers) to his Premier Cru Beaune Greves, Andrew’s wines show elegance, precision and balance.

Perhaps one of the most famous first generation winemakers is Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena. His lawyer father, Jim, was brought in as a partner at Montelena when Lee and Helen Paschich bought the Napa property in 1968. Jim assumed 90% control of Montelena just four years later and Bo, already an adult (which is why I consider him a first gen winemaker), was installed as assistant to learn from winemaker Mike Grgich. Their 1973 Chardonnay famously won the Judgement of Paris in 1976, and made the company famous, ultimately resulting in a movie being made of the story starring Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier and Chris Pine as Bo Barrett.

Finally, there is Peter Crawford. Born into a farming family, he fell in love with Champagne when he and I were running Oddbins in St Andrews in the early 2000s. Drinking Pol Roger with our friend (and first gen winemaker Richard Bray) in the storeroom, his eyes were opened to this fabulous drink and it became his life’s passion. Moving away from the wine trade, he trained as a physiotherapist and being based in London, meant that visiting Champagne was relatively easy and his trips were frequent. Getting to know everyone in Champagne resulted in him establishing a Champagne importing company, but the bug to make something caught him. Returning back to his home in Fife, he started making champagne… but with apples! The Naughton Cider Company is based near Wormit and while his products may carry the name ‘cider’ on the label, they really are wines that happen to be made out of apples! His style is deliberately vinous, using champagne production methods, ageing his wines before release and using a combination of tank and barrel. When you visit his tiny winery you aren’t bombarded with aromas of apples, you get all the aromas of a winery in northern Portugal – furthering the argument that he is a winemaker, not a cidermaker!

On first glance, there is nothing to link these three people. A bombastic Australian publisher, an older American gentleman with a soup-catcher and a Scottish polo player with ‘ham-like forearms’ (a quote from a Daily Mail article on him 7 years ago!) but each one of them were drawn to making wine for a reason. The only question is, "was it fate, was it luck, or was it Karma?