Why Paul would be an effective mentor
- Paul Rolt has over twenty years’ experience in owning and running vineyard- based businesses, with tourist destination offerings as part of the wider business. His great people skills and knowledge of his subject means he welcomes the opportunity to share his experience and knowledge that may ‘in some small way’ contribute to the success of Welsh viticulture.
- For Paul and his partner, Gwinllan Hebron Vineyard in West Wales, which they planted in 2010, is their second vineyard business, their first was in Andalusia, Spain. They have taken both vineyards through organic conversion with both run on non-intervention and regenerative farming practices, sustainability always at the forefront of all decision-making.
- Highly committed to regenerative viticulture, Paul has excellent communication skills and is in demand as a speaker on topics including regenerative viticulture and natural winemaking. Regularly hosting vineyard tours, tasting and tapas events, he will be very much at ease mentoring you on his favourite subject matter – namely the grapes he grows and wine he produces – but he’ll be happy mentoring you on diversification, regenerative farming and his other specialist topics too!
- A good listener, he says that the need to operate sustainably must be an ongoing process within any business, irrespective of what stage of development they are at.
- As well as the practical skills of practising hands on organic regenerative viticulture, Paul has valuable experience of running vineyards that have supplementary or diversified income streams attached to them, all developed in a sustainable way.
Current farm business
- Paul and his partner planted Gwinllan Hebron Vineyard 2010. A rare example of a non-intervention, low-impact, regenerative vineyard, their grapes are processed using natural wine making techniques and are made in ‘amphorae’ - the most traditional of ferment vessels. They sell wine into several ‘high end’ restaurants and hotels as well as some wine merchants, with the majority selling retail from their cellar door.
- They also have two tourist offerings - one is a three-bedroom barn conversion for holiday accommodation – and the other is tours, tastings and tapas events held approximately twice a week throughout the season.
- Paul’s partner operates Sauce Catering, which provides all the catering for the tapas element of the tours, as well as providing off-site community cooking, workshops, privately catered functions and community cooking programmes.
- Very much an integral part of the local community, local individuals help harvest the grapes and the vineyard has hosted community focused demonstrations.
- Paul currently operates one of only a small number of regenerative vineyards in the UK and is the only vineyard in Wales to make wine in amphorae. He also believes he runs the only commercial vineyard in the world to have developed an arbustrum trellis system which uses living willow.
- Other notable achievements include being invited to participate in two studies financed by the Welsh Government - one was a year-long research project. He operated the control group (no spray) for research into reducing synthetic chemical spraying in vineyards. The other was for a study researching a zero-waste winery from the sustainability perspective.
- Paul helped to develop the Welsh Government’s wine strategy, launched last year, through his participation within the special interest group drinks cluster.
- He is also the lead producer/applicant in a new PGI application for natural wine of Wales
- Although he admits to having no recognised viticulture qualification, his knowledge is recognised widely and he continues to be an active participant in the special interest group cluster and a member of the Regenerative Viticulture Foundation.
Top tips for business success
“Viticulture is a challenge in Wales. Take the time to observe and plan; this is a long-term crop so making the right decisions at the start of your vineyard business will pay dividends in the future.
“Keep sustainability high in your decision making process and explore diversification to open related income streams to your core business.”