After the way the last 12 months has gone it feels more like a decade than just 12 months since we first opened our doors. It’s been a heck of a rollercoaster with massive ups and downs as we fought on through the challenges of covid but we wouldn’t change it for the world. We have grown to a team of 10 English wine fanatics, welcomed 1000’s of smiling faces to the vines and almost released our very first wine, grown and crafted all on-site. Join us below as we walk through some of the milestones of our first year.
1. Completing our new home
After nearly 5 years in the making, we finally broke ground on our own winery, kitchen + shop to only months later have the full force of Covid19 and lockdown one upon us. Luckily being a family of builders, Tom + Mike were able to keep going, it just put a big pause on our original hopes of a spring opening. But after months of hard work and tracking down sparse supplies, the old tennis court at Alder was finally fully converted into our new home ready to kick start our English wine journey on the 4th September 2020.
2. Our first ever harvest hit our new winery
One of the most stressful but exciting weeks of Tom (Our head wine wizards) life so far. After completing winemaking courses at the UK’s leading viticulture college and years helping out in other wineries and vineyards across Devon the day finally came to power up all our shiny new equipment and turn our very first bunches into wine. It was a week of firsts as our press, de-stemmer and vats all kicked into action. It was a lot of long nights but also a lot of fun and that feeling at the end of the week as you walked through the winery to see our very first wine sitting in our vats can only be described as magical.
3. Surviving 2 more national lockdowns
After only 2 months open the emergency breaks were put on in the November lockdown, closing us to the public yet again. But not ones to ever really stop we took on the challenge to test our creativity and Adam (Our head of creativity/cook) got to work. Launching our new range of gift vouchers that helped keep us afloat through to the much bigger January shut down. But we didn’t stop there, throughout the 3-month lockdown of 2021 we started our weekly winemaker’s platter home deliveries and rebuilt our online shop adding more gift options and new cheese pairing gift box sets. This period really put our adaptability to the test but we made it out the other side stronger than ever and feeling even closer to our fantastic customers that supported us through the winter.
4. Reopening… but outside only… in April
It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, being stuck outside-only in what is usually one of the wettest months of the year, what could go wrong? But actually, it was a lot of fun. After months stuck inside both ourselves and our lovely visitors just wanted to get out and have some enjoyment, no matter the weather. From regularly emptying growing ponds of rainwater from the tops of our gazebos to 50mph winds quite literally blowing our wine and side salads away, it was another month of firsts but we had a lot of fun along the way. There was a lovely atmosphere of “we are all in it together”, enjoying the fun and laughing at the rather ridiculous things that came along with being stuck outside in April.
5. Our first summer season
Now, this bit has been exciting. So far this summer over 650 visitors have walked the vines with Tom on our vineyard tours and over 4,500 have joined us in our new kitchen. That feels amazing to say and it’s been even better living through it. Seeing our new home consistently filled with so many smiles, enjoying our food, views and learning about English wine with us. The place has developed a lovely chilled out and social vibe which was our hope from the start, we can’t wait to keep this going into the autumn with you.
6. Growing our team of English Wine fanatics
We’ve come a long way from 4 people in a field on our days off tending to the vines. We have now grown to a strong and ambitious team of 10. Ranging from singers and actors to pilots, farmers and builders, our team is certainly diverse! It’s brilliant to be able to share our journey and love of English wine together and keep shaping our future as a team.
7. Bottled our first wine on-site
After his first year making wine at Alder this summer, Tom finally put our first wine into bottles. Another massive milestone on our journey to bring our full process on-site. Our 4,000 bottles of vintage 2020 are now all safe and sound ageing in the winery awaiting their upcoming release. Make sure you are a part of our Vine Club (Sign up below) to be the first to know when the next vintages hit the shelves. And they are tasting rather good!
It’s been an incredible first year for us all in the vines and we can’t wait to keep growing, sharing memories and seeing where the next 12 months take us.