The daughter of a Scottish naval officer, Jeannie attended 13 schools, before it was discovered that she was dyslexic rather than lazy. Her self-esteem was saved by the discovery that she enjoyed cooking. After a Cordon Bleu training she cooked the Bollinger directors’ lunches, ran chalets in the alps and cooked for houseparties at remote lodges in the Scottish Highlands. She taught businessmen to cook in Hong Kong, and opened and managed a wine bar there before returning to Scotland, where she ran the kitchens of the Edinburgh wine bar, the first In the city. Throughout the 70s she worked in London for ‘By Word of Mouth’ whenever she wasn’t in Scotland.
Born in Dublin Sam was brought up in London until the age of 7 when he was sent away to school in Switzerland to get away from the London smogs. He grew up speaking French and German and learned to cook in his early teens with Viennese neighbours in London during the school holidays. His knowledge of languages scraped him into Cambridge where he lasted for a year, and the 60s and 70s were spent drifting between jobs; unloading trucks in Hamburg, working in the wine trade, in a fringe theatre in London, advertising, translating technical papers, or working as a butler with Jeannie at Scottish shooting lodges. He ended up in rural Spain in the early 80s.
Sam and Jeannie were married in 1983 and embarked on a new life together, creating Finca Buenvino.