Our Story

It’s Christmas 1977, and at 18 years of age, Neil’s Uncle Ron gives him a small glass of wine to have with the traditional stilton, and a life-long love for wine, food, family, and friends began.

The wine, a 1945 glass of Taylor’s port, the best port from the last Century from one of the leading shippers in the Douro – a ‘light bulb’ moment for Neil “so this is what good wine is all about”. 

Being a student with not much disposable income, Neil began to search out and find quality wines at affordable prices wherever and whenever he could.

His journey started on the Côte d’Azur thanks to his Uncle Ron and Aunt Jenny who owned a house close to the walled Medieval town of St-Pauls-de-Vence, now a famous centre for artisans and home to the world famous La Colombe d’Or hotel where Neil had his first glass of Provençal Rosé Domaine Ott, now a cult wine, in its famous restaurant surrounded by works of art by Miro, Braque, Chagall and others. What a setting to spark one’s interest! 


The Beginning

Frequent visits with friends to his Uncle and Aunt’s property in Antibes on the Côte d’Azur improving his palate with the fine food and wines of the region.


Down to the cellar

Neil can thank his time working for Avis Europe, funding the travel and local connections to build his expansive and eclectic wine education and extensive cellar.


Gascony discovered

A memorable first visit to the legendary winemakers of Madiran.


Hello Gerard and Claire

Neil meets local wine merchant Gerard and Claire Bouchet, experts on the wines of le Sud- Ouest and the owners of Barnes Wine Shop in the early 1980’s – and later the supplier of fine wines at Neil and Kates’ wedding at Lamazere. 


Wedding bells

Marriage of Neil and Kate. A weekend of festivities, fine food and regional wines as 120 friends descend on the small town of Mirande and Chateau de Lamazere in the Gers. Les Anglais arrivant!


Over the sea

First export shipment of Monluc sparkling wine to the UK for family and friends.



Research into winemakers of the region, under Gerard’s tutelage. His “door opening” and arranging of visits saves many hours.


Balcony House Licensed

Business begins. Just a signboard outside the front door at weekends.


Royal Treatment

HRH Prince Charles formally opens Balcony House Cellars wine shop within Sherston’s ‘Old School’ development.


Aquitaine Wines launches

Neil’s dream is realised, offering artisan wines to an international audience. The Tasting Room in the Barn is constructed and ready to accept customers.