Opening a new business in 2020, of all years!

opening a new business in 2020

We always knew expanding would take its toll but opening a new business in 2020 was quite the experience!

2021 may be a new fresh start for many. After surviving 2020, the global pandemic and navigating the tier systems, many might be looking for a new path, one that reconnects with nature and offers a totally different, exciting and sustainable future.

We went through this a few years ago when we made the decision to expand the vineyard. We planted our first vines in 2009 simply intending to enjoy ourselves outside in the fresh air and to sell the crop at the end of each year. Having fallen in love with the wacky world of English wine we decided to jump feet first into the whole process, bringing the winemaking onsite for the first time. Over the last 5 years, we have spent countless hours planning exactly what our next evolution would be. We had already established a successful small shop but we knew we needed to make it more of an experience when you visit our vines. So we decided to open our own kitchen, build on our knowledge of wine to make our tours even more educational and extended our shop to stock a much wider range of fantastic products from Devon creators.

building - opening a new business in 2020

The one thing we didn’t plan for (I don’t think anyone did) was a global pandemic. No more than a few weeks after breaking ground on the build, past the point of no return, we started seeing more and more news reports about this scary uncertain future. We were incredibly lucky in lockdown 1 with me (Tom) and dad (Mike) being in the building trade. We were already building our new home ourselves, so all we really had to contend with was delays in building supplies. This pushed us past our hopes of a spring/summer opening but meant we were ready to go full steam ahead by September.

Opening really did surpass all our expectations, even with the strict covid rules we had to follow (another hurdle in itself) we were delighted to see lunchtimes and tours booked out for the weeks ahead. We really were and are living the dream, getting to share our love for wine with everyone who walks through our doors. We also started to grow our team with Vicky joining us in September too! What would we do without her? Not least that she shaped the soundtrack to the cafe, chilled, soulful music, inspired by her days at uni studying music.

winery tour - opening a new business in 2020

We are incredibly grateful for the help and support we received throughout the last year. From the bank managers who believed in us to the local builder’s merchant for keeping us supplied with all the necessary materials and most importantly all our fantastic customers who joined us along the way.

Opening any business is no doubt a stressful time for its team, even without a pandemic weighing on your shoulders. The restrictions we were placed into from the start kept us and our customers safe and despite all the uncertainty in the crisis, we managed a fantastic two months before the lockdown 2.0 in November. Our wonderful customers rallied around us and our online sales grew dramatically and the month flew past. Once open again, Christmas saw a new buzz around the vineyard and especially in the shop. Shopping local seemed to be a big focus for many this year, which as a new small business was lovely to see and also builds on our plans to keep growing our range from local creators.

We are also grateful for the furlough scheme, as without that we would have received no external help from the government or the local council. Having opened during the pandemic, we somehow managed to fall between the cracks, not being eligible for any grants out there and as we enter yet another lockdown we are still uncertain as to whether we will be eligible this time around either. We may have grown as a business over the last 12 months but so have our outgoings, a concept that sadly the current financial support doesn’t take into account.

For us, the next few months whilst being locked down won’t be totally wasted. The vines need lots of attention as we really get stuck into pruning. All 5,000 vines need to be made ready for the new season, giving them a good tidy up and getting rid of old growth from last year. In the winery, last years’ wines are developing nicely, ahead of bottling later in the spring. We are also looking ahead and getting some rather exciting plans in place for 2021 and beyond.

Pruning - opening a new business in 2020

We really have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has visited us or bought online this year. We couldn’t have made it through without your support and words of encouragement. We will be back soon, better than ever with the prospect of a great summer ahead. We have been saying all along, “If we can survive 2020, we can survive anything”. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy lockdown 3.0.

See you again soon.

Tom Hodgetts

Tom Hodgetts

Head wine wizard
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Opening times

9-5pm wed-sun

Christmas opening times

10-4pm BANK HOLIDAYS

Welcome to the club!

We are so glad you decided to join us. We have just sent you an email to confirm your email address then you’ll be a fully-fledged member of our Vine Club.

Celebrate Mother's Day

FREE mimosa or glass of wine for all mums – Let us help make your mum’s day extra special with a trip out to see us in the vines for a delicious local treat in our kitchen.

Alcohol Awareness

We love wine here at Alder Vineyard but it’s useful to remember that wine is of course an alcoholic product. Whilst wine can be enjoyed in moderation, it is important to seek help and advice if you think you, or a loved one is drinking too much. 

You must be 18 or over to purchase wine and other alcoholic products. 

Our Kitchen is well stocked with drinks from across Devon and beyond and proudly includes several non-alcoholic options. This includes non-alcoholic beers, gin-alternatives, mocktails and of course, soft drinks. 

If you think you, or a loved one may need help and support due to alcohol misuse, please use the links below to find incredibly useful charities and resources that can help you. 

Sustainability Statement

We are proudly committed to protecting our environment and the planet in any way we possibly can. Our ethical and sustainable practices are at the heart of what we do here. 

What have we done so far?

  • Introduction of ‘wild areas’. The garden of the Kitchen includes our gorgeous wildflower area that is ever-changing and evolving. We have also set aside a huge area of land below the vineyard which has become our nature haven. We are allowing mother nature to repossess this area, surrounding a beautiful stream. Encouraging wildflowers and native species to thrive on our vineyard land. 
  • 100% of our power comes from renewable provider Octopus, powering the Kitchen, winery and shop. We also use energy-saving light bulbs and other techniques to reduce our uses wherever possible. 
  • We source products and ingredients from countless local suppliers, reducing food miles and supporting other local businesses. 
  • We send no waste to landfill. 100% of our waste is recycled, reused, composted or used to make energy via DCW 
  • We harness a natural spring on the farm to provide water for tasks such as washing vehicles, vineyard work, watering plants and flower beds. We only use mains water for use in the kitchen and winery. 
  • Our own products are bottled in lightweight glass and aluminium caps, meaning our bottles are created, transported and recycled with minimal energy use. 
  • Our entire range is packaged in plastic-free shipping boxes and is delivered to the customer by our courier, APC who use modern, aero-dynamic, fuel-efficient vehicles that are regularly maintained and serviced to reduce carbon emissions. 
  • We promote the use of plastic-free packaging to our suppliers.
  • We employ a wonderful team of local people. Where possible we encourage car sharing, travelling by bike or electric vehicle. 

 

What else do we aim to do in the future:

  • Our goal is to add solar panels and batteries to our building to remove or reduce the need for power to be brought in from elsewhere. 
  • Another mission is always reducing our requirement for the use of chemicals in the vineyard. We have always refused to use insecticides, however we would like to focus on reducing the use of other sprays wherever possible in the near future whilst making use of ever evolving organic alternatives. 
  • We will be partnering with other local companies who can make use of our harvest waste. For example, our red grape skins will be used to make ‘Grappa’ for the first time in 2023.

Accessibility information

This guide is designed to make your visit as fantastic as possible and to give you the opportunity to let us know where and when we can help you with specific needs. 

Our entire building is wheelchair friendly and we will always endeavour to cater for any specific need or requirement. 

If there is anything we can do that is not mentioned in this guide, please do let us know by emailing hello@aldervineyard.uk or calling 01566783409 ahead of your visit. 

 

Level Access:

  • Our entire building is on one level, meaning you can get around easily with a wheelchair. 
  • You can park directly in front of the building entrance, on a flat paved area. From here you can access the café, our unisex accessible toilets, outside terrace, and the winery. 
  • Please note: If you are joining us for a tour, this does involve a walk around the vineyard which is unfortunately not wheelchair friendly. Due to the terrain of the vineyard, a steep hill and lack of hard walkways this is not suitable for wheelchair users or those who struggle to walk. For more information, or to discuss joining a tour which can be adapted to be accessible please email tom@aldervineyard.uk. We will endeavour to adapt the tour to suit your individual needs where possible. 

 

Hearing:

  • Our café is a modern space designed for the very best social eating experiences. 
  • We have a fantastic, self-made, playlist of music to provide a relaxed atmosphere whilst not being imposing as you are eating. However we understand that might not be ideal for some. Each speaker in the ceiling is individually controlled and can be turned off to make a specific area quieter. Please just let us know when booking if you prefer a quiet space and we can choose a table more suited to this and turn the music off in that area. 
  • We have invested in large, padded photographs for the café walls which are actually sound buffering panels in disguise. This, along with our chair socks reduces the sound in the café as well. 
  • There are no speakers outside, however the outside area is not covered so we cant guarantee this will be suitable on wet/cold/windy days. 
  • All of our team are trained to be able to help you as much as we possibly can. 

 

Visual

  • Our café is designed around full height windows and have dark grey frames to make them stand out as much as possible.
  • The walls and doors have high colour contrast.
  • Our team would be more than happy to read the menu to you if you have vision problems as well as answer any questions you may have. 

 

General

  • We have a complimentary ticket system for personal assistants or carers. 
  • Our whole team has been trained to help in any way possible to ensure the best experience. 
  • We have an emergency evacuation protocol in place for disabled visitors. 

We have your Booking!

We will check our availability and be in touch soon to discuss your private group tour booking via email. 

We are Covid secure

Yours and our teams safety is our number 1 priority. We have made a number of changes in the vines to keep us all safe. This is under constant review and will be updated when the government advice changes.

safe travels

We have been verified by Visit England as ‘Good to go’

Social distancing

Please keep to a 2m distance when you visit. We have set all our tables at least 1.5m apart and do recommend face coverings in all indoor areas. Our team will still be wearing face covering when around you too.

Tables size limits

To continue to keep us safe in the vines we are keeping our tables limited to 10 people. We can accommodate larger groups but please get in touch to discuss any 10+ bookings with us.

Hand washing & cleaning

We have introduced a number of hand cleaning stations and guests are required to use hand sanatisor on entry. Our team are washing their hands between each customer and we are disinfecting all tables and chairs between use.

Payment

We are offering table service in the kitchen and advice using contactless or card payments where possible.

We have your Booking!

We will check our availability and be in-touch soon to confirm your table via email.

Booking for today?
Please call us on 01566 783 409 as we may not get to your email in time. 

We have your entry!

We’ve got our fingers crossed for you. We will send you an email to confirm your entry and we will be back in touch once the competition closes. Good luck!

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