Looking to the future, I'm trying to figure out a way of turning Shropshire Vineyards into something more than just a website.
I am really keen to promote the wines and winemakers of Shropshire and surrounds, which is partly why I did the WSET course and why I was also hopeful of joining the tour team at Hencote to gain further experience.
Towards the back end of 2021 and early on this year, I enrolled on the Startup Masterclass programme run by Johnny Themans and team at Good2Great.
The course lasts eight weeks and covers just about everything a startup business needs to know. I wish I'd have had that kind of insight earlier, because while the course reinforced some of the things you kind of know when you're doing your own thing, it definitely shows you what you don't know and really should. Special shout out from me for two of their advisors, Eddie Allan and Sarah Bishop for their invaluable advice and support.
Flashback - November 19, 2021:
A bit of multi hat-wearing for me this week at Shropshire Chamber of Commerce's Food and Drink Expo.
I enjoyed a chat with the ever-busy Beth Heath, chair of Visit Shropshire among her other roles, talking about Shropshire Vineyards and my hopes for giving our local winemakers a bigger audience.
I was able to swap some news news with the guys from Hencote who were displaying some of their award-winning wines.
They seem to have had a pretty good harvest, though like everyone, the weather may have pushed things back a little this year.
It was a pleasure to meet everyone, but highlight of the day, undoubtedly, was a brief "Hollywood Handshake" with Mr Shropshire Business himself, Carl Jones. Have to say, I'm quite enjoying getting back into this #networking thing.
Talking of which, I'm enjoying the Friday Hub meetings with Good2Great, with whom I'm also doing the Startup Masterclass on a Saturday morning.
And, the really exciting news is that on Sunday I start my WSET Level 2 course in Shrewsbury. Finally! Wish me luck.
The dynamic duo at Rowton, Zoe and Melissa Evans, have been trying something new again, with their pop-up wine bar at Rowton Barns (Park Farm) near Shrewsbury.
They're also looking to do a couple of tasting events with food and wine matching in the new year, so watch this space.
I had a longish chat with Rob Grove, owner of the small but perfectly formed Grove Estate vineyard near Eccleshall the other day.
It's a lovely location, down the end of a long drive that you would hardly notice from the main Eccleshall to Stone road.
It has an interesting configuration, in that the vineyard is actually Rob and his wife's back garden.
More to come when I have the time to re-read my notes.
I've been having an interesting email exchange with Oliver Richardson, from Wem, who by a strange quirk of geography is Secretary of the Welsh Vineyards Association.
Turns out I am a mere whippersnapper in the wine website field. Oliver tells me he started his, which can be found here, back in 1995. You can get in touch with Oliver by email, here.
Oliver was filling me in a bit about his background and suggesting a couple of updates.
For instance, he believes the Vyrnwy vineyard may have closed, and certainly I couldn't raise their website this morning.
He was also a little mystified by the situation at Morville St Gregory, whose website he believes is off-air. I did find their wine on offer at the Mynd Hardy Plants website, here, which suggests there's still plenty of white, sparkling white and rosé to be had.
He also suggested a couple of additions to this site in the form of the Grove Estate at Eccleshall, a few miles from that wildest of wild frontier towns, Newport, and Carden Park just over the Cheshire border not far from Whitchurch.
The Grove Estate, owned by Rob and Liz Grove, launched their first Rondo in 2016, and their website is here.
Carden Park is an impressive spa facility, which includes golf among other distractions.
The vineyard was created in 1988 and reinstated 20 years later to improve the vines, which are Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir. You can find out more here.
I guess if I'm to include The Grove and Carden Park, they'll be included in the On The Border page. I can see a couple of trips out very soon.
So, thanks to Oliver for his interest, I look forward to keeping in touch with him.
April 19 update... Actually Oliver has me bang to rights. Just noticed that Carden Park is in the SY postcode too!!
Well, this is disgraceful really... I've just realised it's almost exactly five months since I posted anything here. And the Facebook stream appears to have stopped in the meantime, but it's back up and running again now.
Like everyone else, I've spent the last few months pretty much confined to home, which is just a mile or so down the road from Zoe and Melissa Evans's Rowton Vineyard.
If I do get out - usually for shopping or a takeaway - I pass the vineyard there and back, and I have to say it's looking pretty spruce ladies, with the trellising all in place and the pruning and weeding under control.
It's a relatively small site, but it has a great aspect, sweeping down from the A458 towards what I think is a small brook at the bottom of the slope.
The trellis takes on different shapes as you drive past in the direction of Welshpool. It's going to look spectacular when the vines start greening up.
Having received my first dose of the Bill Gates microchip (only kidding) and suffering from a degree of cabin fever, I did venture into Shrewsbury this morning where I actually got to talk to actual people face to face - socially distanced of course.
The poor lady in Marks and Sparks who foolishly asked me 'can I help?' got sidetracked for 15 minutes by some burbling fool who insisted on giving her virtually his complete life story.
I fear Robin Nugent at Iron and Rose, the wine shop on the top floor of the Shrewsbury Market Hall must have felt he'd suffered a similar fate.
Turns out he knows the Goddards at Commonwood. I asked him to pass on my best wishes next time he was in touch.
Once the madness has ended, he's planning to open a tasting section next to the shop based on the same lines as his other venture, Glouglou.
Robin's on Instagram and Twitter @iron_and_rose.
Originally posted on the home page on 29/03/2021
Roy Williams is a former journalist, systems editor and has his name in small letters as the editor of a book about big data. You can see where the wine comes in...