The Pandemic Was Make Or Break – But We’ve Come Out Of It Stronger

The Pandemic Was Make Or Break – But We’ve Come Out Of It Stronger
The Pandemic Was Make Or Break – But We’ve Come Out Of It Stronger

When Alice Maltby won both the ‘New Business’ and ‘Overall Winner’ categories of the Women of Achievement Awards in 2018, organised by not-for-profit organisation Women in Business Hull (WiB), Little Wold Vineyard was still in the early stages of its development.

Just four years on, the business has weathered the storm of the Covid pandemic and grown to become Yorkshire’s largest vineyard – and a leading regional tourist attraction and events venue.

The business was established in 2015 by Alice, her father and her brother, with the aim of creating a new income stream for the family farm.

Its first ‘own’ wines, produced wholly from vines on the estate, were bottled in 2017.

“I was genuinely gobsmacked to be shortlisted for the WiB Women of Achievement Award’s new business award after a friend nominated me,” Alice said.

“Winning the award on the day, and being named the overall winner for that year, was an even bigger surprise – it really made me stop and reflect on the journey to get there.

“Just reaching the point where we were producing our own wine was the result of years of sheer hard work. At that time I had a four-year-old and a small baby – so with them, as well as setting up the business, I had a lot on my plate.

“The award felt like validation in the face of sceptics who doubted that a vineyard in Yorkshire could succeed. It also helped raise the profile of the business – there were plenty of people locally who hadn’t heard of us back then, so the publicity we received was very welcome.”

Since then, the team at Little Wold Vineyard has won many other plaudits, from Farmers Weekly magazine’s Diversification of the Year award to a dozen industry awards for its still and sparkling wines.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

“At the stage we were at then, the pandemic really was a make-or-break situation for us. As well as being a major source of revenue, our events are an important sales outlet for our wines, so we were doubly hit by lockdown restrictions,” Alice said.

“With large , tasting events and tours cancelled, we had to adapt quickly without really knowing what the future held. We increased our focus on online sales, introduced virtual tasting events over Zoom, launched picnics in the vineyard and offered micro-weddings that were in line with Covid guidance.

“My brother and I also used the time to gain professional winemaking qualifications which means we’ll be making our own wine on the premises for the first time with our next harvest, instead of contracting the process out.”

The business now employs 15 people and continues to go from strength to strength, with 85 per cent of its wines now sold direct and over 45 weddings – plus tours, tastings and picnics – taking place onsite during the year ahead.

Alice believes the WiB Women of Achievement Awards (WOAA) are the perfect opportunity to shine a light on women’s successes in the world of business and beyond.
“I would 100% encourage people to put themselves forward for an award, or to nominate someone else.

“The last two years have been tough for everyone and there’s plenty of evidence that women have had it hardest of all – doing their day jobs at the same time as home-schooling children and looking after the wellbeing of staff.

“As a woman in business it can sometimes be harder to have your voice heard, especially in a male-dominated industry like mine. The recognition that comes from winning or being nominated for an award can give you a valuable boost of energy and confidence that helps keep you on track and ready to rise to the next challenge.”

Only one week remains to nominate the inspirational women in your life for the Women of Achievement Awards, with entries closing on Sunday 31 July.

Taking place on Friday 11 November from 12-5pm at the Mercure Hotel in Willerby, there are nine categories available to enter including:

• New Business Award
• Established Business Award
• Voluntary Award
• Apprentice/ trainee Award
• Women in STEM Award
• Lifetime of Achievement Award
• Female Entrepreneur Award
• Women Breaking Boundaries Award
• Employee of the Year

To enter the awards, or find out more information, visit the WiB Twitter page here, or visit the website: https://womeninbusinesshull.co.uk/current-events/women-achievement-awards/

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