What inspired you to up sticks and move to the French countryside to start your wine brand, Mirabeau en Provence?
That’s simple- Stephen and I were madly passionate about Provence Rosé and we were big time Francophiles. So when the moment presented itself and because he would have had to move jobs anyway we decided this was the moment and jumped!
Were your family all on board with the idea of moving away from London? What were the most difficult aspects of moving as a family?
They didn’t say it out loud, but we’re sure our respective folks were in complete agreement that we were utterly mad to undertake this move at our age and believed we would be back in London within a year or two. We’re grateful they humoured us enough to let us get on with it without piling on the guilt about our irresponsible behaviour.
Settling our kids was the tricky bit, it takes a lot longer to re-build their little lives replete with friends, a language they understand and can communicate in and for old habits to die down and new ones to form. But we’re all glad we made the effort and the kids are really independent and adaptable, which we hope will stand them in good stead for their adult lives.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting the business, and what the most satisfying?
The most challenging aspect is the paperwork in France, we could have planted a small forest with the amount of forms we filled in and if I had a dollar for every “Non, ce n’est pas possible Madame” I would be driving a very fancy car.
Apart from the upsides of being your own boss, the most satisfying moment is to look around you and see people pouring themselves a glass from your bottle and having a really lovely time. There’s nothing better than being incognito in a restaurant or supermarket and realising someone’s just selected what you made.
What excites you most about your work?
By chance my passion for design, food and interiors has been given such nourishment in my role of running Mirabeau with Stephen. I love the creative side of my job and how I can express myself through digital media to help bring our brand to life. It’s fantastic to have such a multifaceted role, where you really take a shot at so many aspects of business but also at lifestyle marketing and design.
What do you look for in a wine?
I look for it to be fault free, to be a really good expression of its kind and above all to make me happy when I’m drinking it.
I am not really into highly tannic wines and very natural wines with bits floating around. But I am open to trying most things and I have often been surprised by liking something I thought I didn’t. I am like most people, I have some wines I love and trust and then I leave a margin for experimentation with new things.
What is the best part of living in Provence over London?
I loved living in London and even though I am German by birth considered it my home base, so leaving it was actually very tough for me. I have gone for a life here that is almost the polar opposite in so many ways, but I was ready for it and am happy to live so much closer to nature and I feel much freer to be who I am. The 300 days of sunshine are also pretty good going—good mood is kind of baked in the cake!
What sets Mirabeau apart?
I think it’s set apart by the very high quality standards we demand of ourselves year on year, but also by the way our wines are beautiful, yet uncomplicated. They are compatible with so many situations and such diverse food that it’s just an easy decision to treat yourself to one.
I also think people feel close to us because of the way we tell our story through many different media and we are very approachable. We’re not keen on an ivory tower situation, we enjoy meeting people and try and do that as often as we possibly can.
Some wine buffs are still slightly snobby about rosé—why are they wrong?
This view is luckily largely in the past, we have many wine critics who applaud the region’s development and totally acknowledge that there are some situations where the only drink you want to hold in your hand is a chilled, pale, dry pink from Provence.
But in any case, everyone’s opinion is valid, as in fashion there will be certain people who will never like a certain style and that’s perfectly ok, we can never be all things to all men.
What and who inspires you?
I am inspired by passionate and creative people and often overwhelmed how many amazing souls are out there creating products that revolutionise their chosen markets. I love the story of the good Champagne houses and their incredible marketing nous and longevity.
Coco Chanel inspires me hugely as a woman who was so ahead of her time and charted her path so confidently. We get the chance to support Helena Christiansen on some of her fragrance launches and she is a person I find really fascinating, a strong, intelligent and beautiful female.
But I am also inspired by much simpler things, often just driving through the countryside. Nature’s still the ultimate genius…
What are your top tips for London; what are your favourite places to visit whenever you come back?
I wish I was back more, but the combination of being the person who looks after the Mirabeau base and the huge travel commitments of my other half mean I am more often in Provence than elsewhere.
I recently went to Frenchie Covent Garden and just adored it, as well as revisiting Sally Clarke’s amazing restaurant after many years, which was a moment of heartfelt joy—just one woman’s utter dedication and it’s still perfect. Oh, and the Aster because I am a huge fan of Nordic cuisine, and this has a bit of a French touch, so even better!
What else do you enjoy, when not working on the business?
Work and normal life blurs in a big way chez moi, but I just love taking some time out to sit on the terrace to read or to leaf through an interiors magazine—preferably with a glass of something nice to drink in my hand.
My other passion is cooking and I could easily spend most of the day doing it, nothing better than a stack of clean plates and happy guests (or kids) sitting around my table. Oh, and I love flowers… I could totally imagine being a florist in my next life!
What’s next for Mirabeau en Provence?
Lots and lots of things—we’ve fallen in love with a local wine estate that we’re currently trying to buy and will then re-build, we’re launching a really cool pink in a can for picnics and festivals (starting with the US). There are lots more events and festivals this year, including the Big Feastival and some cool pop ups.
I’m also planning to write a beautiful book featuring our story, Provençal lifestyle and cookery to create a real Southern French visual feast. I have a feeling I won’t get bored any time soon…