Ten Miles East

Fine wines from the Adelaide Hills

Using estate-grown fruit, owners and winemakers James and Taiita Champniss handcraft very limited batches of unique and incredibly fine wine.


James Champniss

I grew up in the greenbelt of western Greater London and my childhood was like a cross between Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, full of fishing for newts in streams and playing rugby at boarding school. My teenage years were spent in an idyllic village in the Cotswolds and at school in Cheltenham, where I developed a keen interest in traditional English pubs, cooking, food, science and ancient history.

For a while, I dreamed of being a chef but after several summer stints in local gastro-pubs with grumpy mentors, I soon realised this wasn’t the career for me. After a short gig in a Cheltenham wine store, I decided winemaking was a far better fit.

I headed straight to Australia during my gap year after school, searching for adventure and hoping to learn more about wine while toning down my accent (it worked).

I took jobs in vineyards and wineries across the Margaret River and Hunter Valley and loved the work so much that I pursued a Bachelor of Agricultural Science majoring in Oenology at the University of Adelaide. My year was actually the last to use the Roseworthy campus winery before it closed.

After graduating in 2000 I took on various winemaking roles at Hardys and eventually landed a proper job at Renmano in the Riverland, which thoroughly delighted my mother – she was tickled pink that she could tell her village friends her son made famed Banrock Station wine. It was during this time that I met Taiita at a wine show lunch in Adelaide. We were married in 2007.

I’ve now done more than 20 vintages around the world, working in large wineries as well as tiny operations where everything was done by hand. That includes Stonehaven at Padthaway, Penfold’s Magill Estate and Mitchelton, Yarra Burn and Project Wine at Langhorne Creek in Australia; and Burgundy and Tuscany in Europe.

In 2011, Taiita and I moved to the UK to be closer to my family. I’ve since had the opportunity to indulge my other loves – woodlands and pigs – by completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.

These days, I spend my time on a tractor during grain harvest, soaking up a local agronomist’s knowledge or working with pigs. Several times a year I head back to Australia to help Taiita steer the Ten Miles East ship –  with the kids helping out during school holidays, too.

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