Over the past six months, I have been mentoring a number of businesses in Kent and recently I have been able to visit a few of these in person.
When you are mentoring I find it fascinating learning about new organisations and developing strategies to support their growth and development.
I discovered that there are over 50 vineyards in Kent, I think this should mean that we should reclassify the county as a wine-growing region. As temperatures have increased over the past 3 to 4 decades it now means that the area has the same climate that the Champagne region in France had 35 years ago, along with the rich soil of the area it means the wine is pretty darn good. I have tried a few of the sparkling wines from Barnsole and I am planning on trying some from the Mount Vineyard and Mereworth all of which are packed full of stories and bubbles and offer visitors to Kent the opportunity to visit them.
The photos of the vineyards come from Gusbourne located less than 20 minutes from Ashford, the vines are a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The silence of the vines is occasionally disturbed by the clink of bottles being moved within the winery or the clink of glasses in the restaurant. The site is truly beautiful and I was lucky enough to be given a tour, and the opportunity to sample a few of the beautifully crafted wines in the Nest. Having spent time working with the marketing team on creating a corporate tour via zoom it was brilliant to get the opportunity to sample the product in person and say hello to the team. All of the wine brands are doing exciting projects and I can’t recommend them enough either as day trips out but also to add to your collections at home to drink and support the UK’s wine industry.
A super way to experience the vineyards of Kent is through another brilliant Kent treasure Vine & Country. The chef and driving force Jamie creates rustic feasts with a passion and I had the great pleasure of working with him in the Spring. His business was hit hard by Covid last year and as the UK reopens he is seeing green shoots of recovery and re-building the business. This positivity is worth sharing and I ask you all to follow them on Instagram and support these businesses.
Further north is the Maidstone Gin Distillery after years of planning its owners Sam & Darren opened the doors in March last year only for Lockdown to happen. Their determination to succeed and entrepreneurial spirit saw them adapt and make hand sanitiser before creating online gin tastings. I had the pleasure of mentoring them with the team around marketing the tours and the three spirits they produce (all of which I stock in my home bar.). I popped in to visit the team now that the bar, tour, and shop are open and I was delighted to meet them in person and to see inside a really exciting growing brand. They are seeing a growth in sales, they have won awards, they are getting great feedback and it was for me so satisfying to meet them in person (rather than zoom) and to congratulate them on this.
Post-Covid both as a business community and as consumers I encourage you all to support these brilliant organisations in Kent and around the UK, as a business mentor it’s my job to support them and enjoy seeing the success they all richly deserve.