Alan Johnson-Hill, was once quoted as saying “What was the first thing Noah did when he came out of the Ark? He made a vineyard”. Alan bought Château Méaume in 1978 on the evidence of photographs and the enthusiasm of his wife Sue, who went to see it. When Alan, Sue and their three daughters finally turned up at the local railway station in Libourne, in pouring rain, after a journey across the world, it began to seem that it was a terrible mistake.
As the new Lord of the Manor, with five permanent employees, he had to learn fast. Alan’s vintage debut year, 1980 was a disaster in Bordeaux. After taking advice, Alan decided to pull up the small uneconomic acreage of white wines and replanting with red and, more radically, to modernize the wine-making equipment by replacing the old underground tanks and concrete vats. At the same time Alan starting working with a new young up and coming oenologist, Michel Rolland (now international renowned).
All these improvements and collaboration paid off with the 1983 vintage gaining Alan and Château Méaume critical acclaim and the chateau started to run at a yearly profit. With the family settled into the French life, they were welcomed by the local wine establishment and were warmly entertained at most of the world-famous chateaux.
Over the next three decades Alan and Sue worked tirelessly to build the Château Méaume brand, opening new markets around the world from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong and establishing a loyal following, with none other than Roald Dahl once describing their wine as ‘simply delicious”.
In 2017 Alan expressed his desire to retire and his nephew and godson Mark expressed his interested to step in, and so in March 2019, Mark purchased Château Méaume and became the second generation of the Johnson-Hill family to own this beautiful estate.
(Excerpts taken from an article by Roger Carroll in the Radio Times, 2nd March 1986)