Stephen had been in the corporate world for 15 years and in August 2008 turned down a promotion that would have meant more money but also more stress, longer hours and less time with his young family. He had been talking about moving to France to make wine for some time and this was the moment he’d been waiting for to put the plan into action.
A year later in August 2009 (having quit his job and sold the house), the Cronks left the leafy suburbs of south-west London with their possessions packed up on the back of a truck and, with barely a word of French between them, headed south to a small village called Cotignac, in the heart of Provence.
Stephen then set up a small wine business with the principle objective of making a Provence rosé that would become regarded as one of the best from the region. In order to achieve this aim, he put together a highly experienced winemaking team (French and British) and Mirabeau is now being sold in 6 countries and has already earned acclaim from some of the world’s toughest wine journalists.
Making a dramatic career change with a wife and three children requires a little planning and a lot of support.
Stephen originally joined the wine business straight after university and spent 8 years working for London based importers before setting up his own wine and coffee business which he sold when he was 30. He then spent 15 years in the intercontinental telecoms cable-laying business but always maintained a love for wine and a dream that one day he would make his own.
Jeany, Stephen’s German wife, needed a little persuasion that this change in career (and selling the family house, taking the children out of their schools and away from their friends) was a good idea. In the end Jeany took the view that this would be a good move for the family and that Stephen needed to follow his dream of making wine, or he might just become unbearable to live with.
Three years later, the children speak fluent French (and reasonable German), have made lots of new friends and kept their old ones. Jeany is working on the look and feel of the Mirabeau brand, as well as an interior design project for friends, and is busy raising money for the two village schools as President of the parents’ committee.
The winemaking team
Making a Provençal Rosé that stands out from the crowd requires an outstanding winemaking team and we are lucky enough to have heaps of talent and experience in that department (in fact we have approaching 70 years of combined winemaking experience).
Jo Ahearne MW trained as a winemaker at Charles Sturt University, Australia and later qualified as a Master of Wine. She combines a sharp palate with a great sense for the potential in a wine. Her experience as winemaker for Marks & Spencer Plc. and later as the wine buyer for Harrods means she also knows what the discerning consumer demands from a good bottle of wine.
Bruno Siviragol comes from a winemaking family and it was his grandfather who inspired him to work in the vineyards and to make wine. Bruno has been making wine in Provence for over 30 years and we are incredibly grateful for his experience and skills in helping to make Mirabeau a top quality wine.
Nathalie Longefay has been an integral part of our team since 2011. Coming from a winemaking family, Nathalie trained as an œnologist at the University of Toulouse but is also a expert in olive oil production and a Dégustatrice au Conseil Oléicole International.
The rest of the team
Virginie Le Floch (Ninie) brings a cool Parisienne touch to the team, having moved from the capital to Provence with her family in 2005. Ninie plays many different roles at Mirabeau and working with the Cronk family on their “projet fou” allows her to combine her international business experience with her love of Provence and (conveniently) with one of her favourite local products too, Provence rosé.
Alan Green, of Dare to Think, has been holding the IT-side of Mirabeau together since the very beginning. As well as being a terrific website designer, he is always on standby to answer tech questions, install the latest social media apps and generally advise on all aspects of technology and design. Yet I’m pretty convinced he rolls his eyeballs every time we call him.
Marcel and Victoria Koning grew up in South Africa and after 12 years living in the Netherlands, they now call Provence home. Their eclectic skill-set includes sales, online marketing, content curation, logistics and helping out where possible. ‘Fast-learning’ novices in the wine industry with bundles of enthusiasm and a great sense of adventure. Check out their site Tours and Tales.com.