Domaine Gayda’s Tim Ford on surviving this ‘forgotten year’

Running a business through Lockdown is hard enough in the UK but how does it work if you are an Englishman running a large wine business in France? Tim Ford, managing director of Languedoc estate Domaine Gayda explains how he has handled télétravail (working from home) and Chômage Partiel (furlough), keeping his export markets open and working on the new harvest. And also how impressive and fast the help has been from the French government.

“Contrary to all the positive stories about wine consumption going up during confinement, internet sales booming, home deliveries, etc there just has been less wine consumed globally…. why else would the EU be funding a billion-litre distillation project for excess wine, to clear the tanks out for the new vintage?”

Domaine Gayda is a wine estate 25km south of Carcassonne in the foothills of the Pyrenees, established in 2004 by Tim Ford and Anthony Record MBE and managed by Ford. Gayda produces 21 wines, the most well known being Chemin de Moscou, the 2017 vintage of which has this year been voted Best Organic Wine of France at Mundus Vini Biofach, the international organic wine fair.

PD: How has lockdown been for you in the Languedoc?

​Tim Ford: Well as we have remote vineyard sites, we were allowed to travel to all our sites with no problem. We had no cases or suspected cases in the team so we had so self-isolation issues. We did miss our 10 Spani​sh workers that come every year for May to help out in the vines so with the high rainfall we did get behind with a few jobs and were touched by a bit of mildew.

Personally I missed all the business travel and the visits of clients we normally get in April, May and June but we need to adapt to the new norm.

Has the region been badly hit by Covid-19?

​No, we have only had a few cases… obviously the space and the low population density ​has helped.