THE awards continue to pour in for a vineyard with plans for expansion and new products after five years of grape success.
Gwinllan Conwy owners Colin and Charlotte Bennett are celebrating a prestigious bronze medal from the Decanter World Wine Awards, having achieved two bronze medals at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) earlier this year.
That takes their haul to 17 medals in national and international competitions since launching the company.
Add to that a place in the UK Grand Final of the Countryside Alliance Awards – they won the Local Food and Drink Class for Wales – and the future looks bright for the vineyard, based in Llangwstenin, Llandudno Junction.
Colin and Charlotte first planted a quarter of an acre in 2012 and by 2016 were ready to release their first wine.
The Pefriog and Solaris varieties have been lauded by critics and customers, as have their tours and support of independent North Wales producers, but the couple insist the best is yet to come.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have won these awards and to receive so much positive feedback and goodwill,” said Colin.
“But for us the most important thing is always the customers, and the quality of the wine we produce here in Conwy.
“Year on year we double in size and that looks set to continue as we prepare to launch a limited-edition range of classic wines following experimentation with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay flavours, so watch this space.”
Charlotte added: “Covid-19 has sharpened our focus on returning to normality and adapting to meet the challenges of the pandemic; we are adding an outside kitchen area with a barbecue-style offering and have completed a rebrand of the bottles with a more personalised touch, a view from the vineyard painted by a local artist.
“There is a lot in the pipeline, so we are excited to move forward because like many in the sector we were hit hard by lockdown, it was a hammer blow for all of us.
“That said, it gave us a chance to reflect and promote our web presence, the potential of Welsh gifts and particularly hampers, which we sold almost 1200 of after promoting ourselves more online.”
Gwinllan Conwy now covers more than three acres and marked its recent success by hosting an event with guests including farmer and TV star Gareth Wyn Jones, Aberconwy MP Robin Millar and MS Janet Finch-Saunders, and High Sheriff of Clwyd, Steve Thomas.
There they showcased the tasting room, shop, wine garden, and revealed tours are fully booked into the autumn, before those in attendance enjoyed an awe-inspiring flyover by an RAF Chinook helicopter!
Now producing 10,000 bottles a year with the support of Vineyard Manager Sarah Stewart and countless volunteers, Colin and Charlotte are delighted to be in prime position to capitalise on the easing of Coronavirus restrictions and global interest in their burgeoning business.
“We are proud to demonstrate how innovation can make sustainable farming profitable,” said Charlotte.
“It allowed us to become a major tourist destination while assisting other local producers, which is a priority for Gwinllan Conwy.”
Colin added: “Supporting one another is vital, whether that be winemakers – the website www.vineyards.wales was an important platform throughout lockdown – or the brilliant food and drink firms in this region.
“Our core focus is on outstanding customer service, high-quality wine and a visitor experience that lives long in the memory. We will never lose that ethos and thank everyone who has helped us along the way.”