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Press release / Regional investment puts Bristol business on wine and tourism trail

FUNDING awarded to a farm business south of Bristol will see the development of a major new venue and Somerset’s largest vineyard

The investment from the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) to Aldwick Court Farm will promote vineyard and wine production to the region’s tourism and economic assets.

The new Aldwick Venue and Vineyard near Wrington are due to be completed in December; the former will provide a large capacity location for weddings, occasions and conferences. The building will also double up as a visitor centre.

With 13,000 vines now planted, the farm’s two vineyards boast the largest crop in Somerset and are expected to yield 30,000 bottles at full capacity.

“The wine production will support and complement our ACF Hospitality business, adding value to the core farming business and our clients’ experience” commented Aldwick Court Farm’s commercial director Mark Fanning.

Mirroring the established estates in France, the new wine venture will see the launch of a home-grown variety – comprising the cultivation, pressing, producing and cellaring of the end product.

Materials sympathetic to the existing farm buildings are being used to construct the new visitor centre, winery and cellar.

“In order to maximise quality and quantity we’ve selected vine varieties which are known to thrive in the local climate such as Bacchus, Pinot Noir and Seyval” added Mark.

He continued:

“Diversifying the farm business presents an ongoing commercial challenge and this new undertaking is the most significant yet.

“We anticipate that the visitor centre will attract a significant number of tourists a year. It will also provide a very competitive space for functions, especially for parties or wedding organisers looking for something a bit different. We will be able to cater for bookings of up to 200 people and expect this to also provide benefit to the local economy – particularly hotels and caterers.”

“As an addition to our thriving hospitality business here on the farm, I believe we’ve come up with a very attractive bespoke proposition for guests, both private and corporate.

“It will now be possible to enjoy a diverse range of activity in just one day, which could involve kicking off with a meeting, followed by tank driving, then clay pigeon shooting, followed by wine tasting.”

Vineyard and wine tasting tours will start next year in the spring. Already bookings are being taken for 2011 events.

Ursula James, tourism development manager for North Somerset added:

“I believe this could bring a welcome and unique addition to our tourism product in the district, attract new visitors and have a positive economic impact on the area.”

This project is being delivered through the SWRDA with Defra as the Managing Authority. It is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas.

Aldwick Venue and Vineyard and ACF Hospitality and Events Ltd are based at Aldwick Court Farm. ACF is one of the UK’s leading event companies which runs events anywhere in the UK, or from its scenic head office site set in a 300 acre estate. Visit acfhospitality.co.uk for ongoing photographic updates of the venue build, or for more information.