We are proud to have been awarded a record of appreciation from Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey for our outstanding support towards the community having 'more than risen to the challenges and concerns brought about by the pandemic'.
Being presented with the award led us to think over all we have come through during the last 18 months and it's wonderful to be recognised for, well, carrying on! Like most small businesses, we changed the way we worked pretty much overnight, determined to keep the business going.
It wasn't easy to make the changes, but it never occurred to us to give in. During the months when the vineyard was forced to close, we focussed our efforts on deliveries, teaming up with our neighbour Mandira to bring a little joy in the way of wine and food!
When the shop re-opened, we modified the set up to offer ‘click and collect’ via the website.
It was wonderful to see the local community come together and we worked hard with our neighbours and local businesses to come up with new initiatives. We were overwhelmed by support from others determined to ‘Shop Local’.
The vineyard and tasting room fell quiet whilst we encouraged people to stay at home, and when we were finally able to resume tours and events it felt amazing to welcome visitors back to Albury. Receiving feedback from our customers that they had enjoyed post-lockdown experiences, and had felt safe whilst doing so, made all the hard work required to write risk assessments and implement Covid procedures worthwhile! Our staff rose to the challenge, not once daunted by the new way of working and always committed to making our customers feel at ease.
One of the biggest challenges was the harvest, as we rely so heavily on volunteers to pick the grapes. We were so happy that our wine club members and community volunteers were able to harvest with us despite the difficult circumstances, and our vineyard managers embraced the challenge to deliver a COVID-safe harvest for our staff, volunteers, and Romanian workers in their own ‘bubbles’.
What we hadn't quite realised at the beginning of the pandemic was how important it would become for people to be outside. The lockdown led us all to appreciate the outdoors and make the most of what’s on your doorstep. For this reason, we decided to open the vineyard for people to enjoy walks, even when we weren't allowed to sell wine and it was rewarding to see so many appreciating a safe outside space.
We have learnt a lot during the Covid pandemic and are grateful that our business has not only survived but has thrived in new ways. It’s inspired us to give back what we can, and to reassess our core values. News on this to follow soon! In the meantime, a huge thanks to the Surrey Lieutenancy for this recognition and also to our loyal staff, customers and local community.