Christmas feels like a distant memory for most of us now, swept away by resolutions and a (very bitter) northerly wind – which has made pruning a little less than fun for Tom, Cam and me. But after nearly two weeks of rest (or, if you’re Cam, two weeks of exploring the Scottish Highlands) we all felt ready to return to LWV. And, of course, we hit the ground running this week.
Going into a new week in the new year can be a struggle, but here at LWV we are feeling far from blue after receiving a lovely message from the CEO and Founder of Family Business United’s Paul Andrews. On Monday we were informed that our little business has been shortlisted for the National Family Business of the Year Award 2024, in the Yorkshire category!! (Yes – the double exclamation points are staying; I think they’re valid for this kind of announcement). In case you were wondering who FBU are, they’re main goal is promoting and bringing together small, family-run businesses. The Family Business Awards have been running since 2012 (when LWV was just a mere twinkle in Henry’s eye), and the event has only grown in the years since. On their website, Andrews describes the awards as: ‘a fantastic evening where the family business community comes together to celebrate the very best of British family firms.’ Over the years, our business has been incredibly lucky to be long and short listed, invited to, and (on occasion, if you’re curious as to how many, we have a lovely display of our achievements in the Tasting Room) even win awards. To continue to be recognised for an award that focuses on the family dynamic in business is a huge compliment that we carry with pride. It’s not for everyone but working with my family on LWV is something I couldn’t be more grateful for (Cam and our amazing team of events staff are, naturally, family by extension, and we are incredibly lucky to have such a close-knit team to help us achieve all our LWV dreams).
On the vineyard itself, pruning has resumed, with no signs of slowing down for Tom, Cam, or me. During our 2022 summer season I had the misfortune of cutting off the end of my right index finger (sorry for all you squeamish readers, and to those who don’t mind a little gore, if you want the full story, I’m always happy to chat if you find yourself at the Tasting Room or passing the South Cave sites). Since then, the boys have made it their mission to bring up my accident as often as possible – as if they would rather forget their own mishaps and focus on my single slip up. This is my first time working the winter season and if you didn’t know, pruning involves the use of very sharp pruning shears. Some of ours are even battery-operated, to help cut through the old canes and stubborn branches. Surprisingly, I have not been offered these electric shears. My days are spent cutting the vines back by hand, with the distant shouts of, ‘fingers intact, Ellie?’ I try not to be too bitter about it and consider this my ‘initiation’ into being a true LWV team member.
Due to the rate at which we work, our pruning shears require a lot of TLC. While we wait for the worst of the cold to thaw in the morning, Cam’s working away in the Blue Shed (another classic LWV name for you) to ensure our equipment is in its best possible condition. I may not be allowed to operate the electric shears, but I have been shown how to fix and maintain them. While my manual pair are sharpened, the electric pairs have replacement blades which we swap out between uses. Cam pointed out that, ‘we do well over one thousand cuts a day with these, so good maintenance is key.’ While it doesn’t take too long to prepare the equipment, if we’re not careful and forget to charge them overnight all that work is for nought (but this really isn’t my problem and could perhaps be considered karma for all the comments on missing fingers made each day).
On the customer facing front, Alice and the team have been reviewing the previous year and setting goals for 2024. Alice sent me a set of tables detailing the progress we’ve made, both in our wine events and the quantity of grapes (and wine) we are producing. Important as these things sit hand in hand for us as business. Our events are where we sell around 80-90% of our wines, so as our yields grow the opportunities to sell direct to our lovely customers has also needed to increase. While it may not seem exciting to some, seeing these figures informs us of how well we’re doing, and where we can improve each year. On the events front, we have seen nothing but growth since 2021, with an approximate increase of 23% from 2022 into 2023. Alice and her team are amazing at curating events for all occasions, and now that we are very much settled into our lovely Tasting Room, we’re hoping that the number of vineyard tours, cellar door tasting, parties, corporate events, and of course - special celebrations we hold will continue to grow. This is great news as our wine production has also jumped from around 12000 bottles in 2021 to nearer 28000 in 2023. This is all achieved thanks to a selection of amazing suppliers; our events team, who will coordinate with the kind of precision you’d expect to see in the military; and your feedback. While we can promote plenty on Instagram, and I can write here until my fingers are whittled down to nothing, it’s your feedback that makes the biggest difference. If you’ve ever attended an event with us, tried our wine, or just stopped by the cellar door for a wine flight and a chat, if you fancy leaving us a little message on the experience we would probably love you forever (so I’m not allowed to speak on behalf of everyone, but I’m not going to pretend it wouldn’t make any of us very happy to see your kind words on our website).
As for this week, we are very excited to host a birthday this weekend, and our cellar door will be open as usual – Fridays and Sundays, 11am to 4pm, in case you weren’t too sure. And don’t panic if you’re attempting dry January, we have plenty of soft drinks and caffeine for you to have instead. And if you’re new year goal is to spend more time outside, then why not walk your way up to us? The route is a simple one: heading out the village on Beverly Road, turn up towards Little Wold Lane, keeping the lovely view of the valley on your right and Spook Woods to your left. Eventually, you’ll see the first signs of Thirty Acre, our old gate has views of our eldest vines, and if you keep looking you’ll see the Tasting Room. Stay on the public footpath and walk around this field, and before long you’ll come across the entry, where you’ll see the beginning of our Phoenix vines, the wishing well and the Tasting Room in front of you. And then you can reward yourself by having a glass of James’ View, or even some of Alice’s Cuvée if you’re particularly pleased with your efforts.
Our first wedding showcase of 2024 is also coming up soon, on Saturday 20th January. The day will run from 11am until 3pm, so if you’re interested in having your wedding with us feel free to stop by. This is a great opportunity to meet our events team, who would help you organise your big day, as well as a selection of fantastic suppliers who have worked with us before and are recommended by our team. Some of those suppliers include caterers Shoot the Bull, and the lovely florist Wonderland Blooms, as well as a selection of photographers, stylists and other important suppliers who can help perfect your wedding experience. Alternatively, if you want more time with our team to talk through your options, we have some private appointments left for this particular weekend too, which you can book on our website under the Weddings section.
Speaking of New Year’s Resolutions, I asked some of the LWV team if they had any for 2024. Alice and her team have set themselves some strong targets for the year, which will hopefully motivate us all to go the extra mile, no matter what we’re doing. Tom’s response on behalf of Cam: ‘just wants all his fingers still attached at the end of pruning’ (aren’t they hilarious). Although, all things considered, maybe it’s an appropriate resolution to make? All Tom can think about is making sure the pruning and posts are replaced before the new season kicks off in the spring; his resolution is to make swift work of the remaining ten acres of pruning left to do and install the 1,700 posts we have recently ordered for our South Cave sites. ‘I dread to think how many miles of wire we’ll need to pull out before the end of April,’ was his final comment on the matter. I promise, we’re cheerier than we sound.
And here’s something to really cheer about – our lovely Ella has turned twenty-one this week! Happy birthday to you, Ella, we hope you had a wonderful day.