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Gwin Dylanwad Wine - Rural wine bar turns to virtual wine tastings and home delivery

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Gwin dylanwad wine - Dylan


Interview with Dylan, owner of Gwin Dylanwad Wine, Dolgellau, Wales

In recent months, in order to continue operating during COVID-19, many established food businesses have diversified into food delivery, takeaway or online sales. There has also been an increase in people cooking from home and selling food locally or online.

As part of the Here to Help campaign, we have spoken to businesses across the UK to find out about the range of challenges facing food businesses and their tips on how to succeed.

What was your business like pre-lockdown?

My wife and I run Gwin Dylanwad Wine based in a 16th century building in Dolgellau, a town in rural Wales with approximately 2,700 people. Over the last 30 years we’ve run a bistro style restaurant at street level whilst developing the wine side of the business in the cellar. We were already importing wines from Europe and then 6 years ago we decided to change direction and take the leap to convert to a wine shop with a café and wine bar. Pre-lockdown we employed 2 full time and 6 to 8 part time staff and operated a dine-in model with 25 – 30 seats inside and 2 small tables outside.

How did COVID-19 affect your business? What did you change?

When COVID-19 struck, we lost all our wholesale trade and we closed the café and bar. We paused for about 2 or 3 days to carefully think about what we needed to and could do as a business.

Wine delivery and a courier service

We decided that we would use the time to build up the wine side of the business by delivering directly to our customer base. From the second week of lockdown we were sharing our wine delivery service on social media and were taking orders online. We delivered 2 days a week – one day 40 miles to the south and the other day 40 miles north up to Anglesey. We would then use a courier service to reach people in other locations.

All staff were furloughed straight away whilst my wife and I kept the business going. We felt this was safer until we could build the business back up and then work on slowly bringing our staff back in. These were all tough decisions.

Virtual wine tastings

As a way of connecting with our customers, we put together mixed cases of select wines and organised virtual wine tastings on Facebook Live. We were quick off the mark to do this and worked hard on social media to promote the evenings. We took care to deliver the wine to people on time, ready for each session. During the tasting, I talked people through each wine, giving them the history and details and gave people a chance to ask questions.

We sold about 50 cases and received great feedback from people taking part. For a few years now, I’ve been presenting a regular wine tasting segment on ‘S4C’, a Welsh-language TV channel, so felt comfortable running the 30 minute sessions and sharing our passion for wine. We’ve just run the fourth session and will take a short break before running more in Autumn.

Group wine tasting and music sessions

We were also asked to run some hour-long personalised group wine tastings, where we would run a zoom call for a group of friends. We delivered all the wine to one house and the other people collected it safely.

Some of our virtual wine tastings have also featured music from a local band, as well as partnering with a local restaurant who would deliver food to those involved. Our customers could enjoy their food whilst we explained our wines. That worked really well for us, and allowed our customers to have a night out and taste of normality, while all the time safely at home.

Michelin star restaurant partnership

Throughout lockdown we worked 7 days a week. Each Sunday, we would partner with a local Michelin star restaurant who were offering takeaways. We set up outside the restaurant and offered people wine tastings safely whilst they waited to collect their food. They learnt about the wine we offered and what to pair with certain foods. It meant we could meet new potential customers and expand our customer base.

Gwin dylanwad wine rearranged shop floor during COVID-19

Moving the wine cellar and creating a food market offering

As we adapted, we moved the wine area up from the cellar into the café area on the first floor. We knew the café area would be too small to operate with appropriate social distancing, so wanted to put it to better use. When we could, we opened as a shop selling wine and essential and artisan food products. We also offered takeaway hot drinks and increased to 5 tables outside.

We bought in more food products such as pasta and pizza flour, which at times were hard for our customers to get hold of. This all helped to create a food market offering. We also offered to deliver the food with the wine, which again helped us to attract new customers.

Reopening and staff training

For all our efforts to be proactive, we quickly learnt that we needed more signage in the shop at eye level as people didn’t always see some of the signs on the floor and at points struggled with social distancing. We created a one-way system around the shop and split it into 5 clear zones with more than 2 meters between each zone. We carefully managed the amount of people in the shop and moved the tables to be 2 meters apart outside too.

We made sure we followed the updated Welsh Government food safety guidance closely to make sure we were set up correctly and checking anything that we were doing differently due to COVID-19.

When we brought our staff back off furlough, we also trained them all on the new COVID-19 procedures. We made sure they were empathetic with customers and that they knew how to interact in the right way. It can be awkward at times, especially for the younger staff who may not be as confident.

Working together with local businesses to manage tourists

It’s currently not mandatory in Wales to wear face masks, and this can create confusion, especially as we are a tourist town with many people coming in from England, where masks are mandatory indoors.

Food businesses in the area need the custom and depend on the tourist season. We want to show visitors and the local population that we care and we’re doing our best to be safe. To help with this, we have worked closely with the pubs in the area to agree that we would all close at 10pm as more customers are outside drinking and it’s a mix of residential and commercial properties. This has worked well to keep the noise level down and keep both the locals and visitors happy.

Dolgellau is a small town with not much space for outside dining, so the local council have agreed to be flexible in their approach to parking so that we can stay open safely and have enough space to accommodate customers.

We agreed with the local Council that we could put three small tables on former parking spaces. We’re not sure how long we’ll be able to do this but hoping it might become a permanent feature that will enhance the enjoyment of the urban space.

What would you recommend to other businesses?

I would say look at the space you have and be realistic about what’s achievable. We knew we couldn’t operate the café as it was as we didn’t have the space to run it safely. We had to look at it with fresh eyes and think about what we could do.

What do the next 6-12 months look like for you as a business?

We now have an online wine business and we need to continue to develop it. We’re investing in improving our online ordering system and want to make the process as slick as we can.
We also have more rooms on the second floor and if we’re able to do it safely, we’d like to open them for private dining or wine tasting for people who are in a bubble. These rooms used to be an overflow for the café but we’re thinking about what exciting things we can offer while still staying compliant and protecting our customers.

Whatever happens, we’re aiming to keep the shop open and concentrate on improving every element of what we offer. Our experience throughout COVID-19 has been like starting a new business again, but we now know that we can continue to operate in a lockdown situation and safely connect with our customers.

Gwin dylanwad wine bar shop front

Gwin Dylanwad – bar gwin gwledig yn cynnal sesiynau blasu gwin ar-lein a gwasanaeth dosbarthu i’r cartref

Cyfweliad â Dylan, perchennog Gwin Dylanwad, Dolgellau

Beth oedd eich busnes cyn y cyfnod clo?

Mae fy ngwraig a minnau'n rhedeg Gwin Dylanwad, busnes sydd wedi’i leoli mewn adeilad o'r 16eg ganrif yn Nolgellau, tref yng nghefn gwlad Cymru gyda thua 2,700 o bobl yn byw yma. Dros y 30 mlynedd diwethaf rydym ni wedi rhedeg bwyty bistro ar lefel y stryd tra hefyd yn datblygu elfen gwin y busnes yn y seler. Roedden ni’n barod yn mewnforio gwinoedd o Ewrop, ac yna 6 mlynedd yn ôl fe benderfynon ni fentro a newid cyfeiriad, gan drosi’r busnes yn siop win gyda chaffi a bar gwin. Cyn y cyfnod clo, roedden ni’n cyflogi 2 aelod o staff llawn amser a 6 i 8 rhan-amser. Roedd lle i 25 – 30 eistedd y tu mewn, a 2 fwrdd bach y tu allan.

Sut effeithiodd COVID-19 ar eich busnes? Beth wnaethoch chi ei newid?

Pan darodd COVID-19, fe gollon ni ein holl fasnach gyfanwerthu ac wnaethon ni gau’r caffi a'r bar. Fe gymron ni ddeuddydd neu dri i feddwl yn ofalus am beth oedd angen i ni ei wneud, a beth oedd yn bosibl i ni ei wneud fel busnes.

Dosbarthu gwin a gwasanaeth cludo

Fe wnaethon ni benderfynu defnyddio'r amser i ddatblygu ochr gwin y busnes trwy gyflenwi yn uniongyrchol i'n cwsmeriaid. O ail wythnos y cyfnod clo roedden ni’n rhannu negeseuon am ein gwasanaeth dosbarthu gwin ar ein cyfryngau cymdeithasu, a hefyd yn cymryd archebion ar-lein. Roedden ni’n dosbarthu gwin ddwywaith yr wythnos – un diwrnod 40 milltir i'r de a'r llall 40 milltir i'r gogledd hyd at Ynys Môn. Yna, roedden ni’n defnyddio gwasanaeth cludo i gyrraedd pobl mewn lleoliadau eraill.

Cafodd ein holl staff eu rhoi ar ffyrlo yn syth bin tra bod fy ngwraig a minnau'n cadw'r busnes i fynd. Roedden ni’n teimlo bod hyn yn fwy diogel nes ein bod yn gallu adeiladu'r busnes yn ôl eto, a dechrau gweithio ar ddod â'n staff yn ôl yn araf deg. Roedd y rhain i gyd yn benderfyniadau anodd iawn.

Sesiynau blasu gwin ar-lein

Fel ffordd o gysylltu â'n cwsmeriaid, fe wnaethon ni roi casys cymysg o winoedd dethol at ei gilydd a threfnu sesiynau blasu gwin dros Facebook Live. Fe aethon ni ati reit handi i wneud hyn, gan weithio'n galed ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasu i hyrwyddo'r nosweithiau. Fe wnaethon ni gymryd gofal i anfon y gwin i bobl mewn pryd, yn barod ar gyfer pob sesiwn. Yn ystod y sesiynau blasu, roeddwn i’n siarad pawb trwy bob gwin, gan rannu'r hanes a'r manylion a rhoi cyfle iddyn nhw ofyn cwestiynau.

Fe wnaethon ni werthu tua 50 o'r casys ac fe gawson ni adborth gwych gan y rheiny a gymerodd ran. Ers rhai blynyddoedd bellach, mae gen i brofiad o gyflwyno segment blasu gwin rheolaidd ar S4C, ac felly roeddwn i'n teimlo'n gyffyrddus yn cynnal y sesiynau 30 munud a rhannu ein hangerdd ni am win. Rydyn ni newydd gynnal y bedwaredd sesiwn a byddwn ni’n cymryd hoe fach cyn cynnal rhagor yn yr hydref.

Sesiynau blasu gwin grŵp a cherddoriaeth

Gofynnwyd i ni hefyd gynnal sesiynau blasu gwin grŵp personol awr o hyd, lle bydden ni’n cynnal galwad Zoom ar gyfer grŵp o ffrindiau. Rydyn ni'n dosbarthu’r holl win i un tŷ, ac mae’r bobl eraill yn ei gasglu'n ddiogel o’r tŷ hwnnw.

Mae rhai o'n sesiynau blasu ar-lein hefyd wedi cynnwys cerddoriaeth gan fand lleol, yn ogystal ag uno mewn partneriaeth â bwyty lleol a fyddai'n dosbarthu bwyd i'r rhai sy'n cymryd rhan. Roedd y cwsmeriaid yn gallu mwynhau eu bwyd wrth i ni drafod ein gwinoedd. Gweithiodd hynny'n dda iawn i ni, a chaniatáu i'n cwsmeriaid gael noson allan a blas ar normalrwydd, a hynny o ddiogelwch clud eu cartrefi.

Partneriaeth bwyty seren Michelin

Trwy gydol y cyfnod clo fe weithion ni 7 diwrnod yr wythnos. Bob dydd Sul, bydden ni’n gweithio gyda bwyty seren Michelin lleol a oedd yn cynnig prydau tecawê. Fe wnaethon ni osod ein stondin y tu allan i'r bwyty a rhoi’r cyfle i bobl flasu gwin yn ddiogel tra’r oeddent yn aros i gasglu eu bwyd. Roedd yn gyfle iddynt ddysgu am y gwinoedd sydd gennym ni i’w cynnig, a pha winoedd i'w paru â bwydydd penodol. Roedd yn gyfle i ni hefyd gwrdd â darpar gwsmeriaid newydd ac ehangu ein sylfaen o cwsmeriaid.

Symud y seler win a chynnig marchnad fwyd

Wrth i ni addasu, fe wnaethon ni symud yr ardal win i fyny o'r seler i’r caffi ar y llawr cyntaf. Roedden ni’n gwybod y byddai ardal y caffi yn rhy fach i’w gweithredu gan gynnal pellter cymdeithasol priodol, felly roedden ni’n awyddus i’w defnyddio'n well. Pan oedd hi’n bosibl, fe wnaethon ni agor fel siop yn gwerthu gwin a chynhyrchion bwyd hanfodol ac artisan. Roedden ni hefyd yn cynnig diodydd poeth tecawê a chynyddu i gynnig 5 bwrdd y tu allan.

Fe wnaethon ni brynu mwy o gynhyrchion bwyd fel pasta a blawd pizza, a oedd weithiau'n anodd i'n cwsmeriaid gael gafael arnyn nhw. Daeth hyn oll ynghyd i greu marchnad fwyd fach. Fe wnaethon ni hefyd gynnig dosbarthu’r bwyd gyda'r gwin, a oedd eto yn ein helpu i ddenu cwsmeriaid newydd.

Ailagor a hyfforddi staff

Er mwyn i'n holl ymdrechion fod yn rhagweithiol a chyrraedd cwsmeriaid newydd, fe wnaethon ni ddysgu'n gyflym bod angen mwy o arwyddion yn y siop ar lefel y llygaid gan nad oedd pobl bob amser yn gweld rhai o'r arwyddion ar y llawr ac ar bwyntiau roeddent yn cael trafferth cadw pellter cymdeithasol. Fe wnaethon ni greu system unffordd o amgylch y siop a'i rhannu'n 5 ardal glir gyda mwy na 2 fetr rhwng pob ardal. Fe wnaethon ni reoli faint o bobl oedd yn y siop yn ofalus a symud y byrddau i fod 2 fetr ar wahân y tu allan hefyd.

Fe wnaethon ni’n siŵr ein bod yn dilyn canllawiau diogelwch bwyd diweddaraf Llywodraeth Cymru yn agos i sicrhau ein bod wedi gosod popeth yn gywir ac ailwirio unrhyw beth yr oedden ni’n ei wneud yn wahanol oherwydd COVID-19.

Pan ddychwelodd ein staff yn ôl bod ar ffyrlo, fe wnaethon ni hefyd eu hyfforddi nhw i gyd ar y gweithdrefnau COVID-19 newydd. Fe wnaethom ni’n siŵr eu bod yn dangos empathi tuag at gwsmeriaid a'u bod yn gwybod sut i ryngweithio yn y ffordd iawn. Gall fod yn lletchwith ar brydiau, yn enwedig i'r staff iau nad ydyn nhw efallai mor hyderus.

Cydweithio â busnesau lleol i reoli twristiaid

Ar hyn o bryd nid yw gwisgo masgiau wyneb yn orfodol yng Nghymru, a gall hyn greu dryswch, yn enwedig gan ein bod yn dref dwristaidd gyda llawer o bobl yn ymweld o Loegr, lle mae’n rhaid gwisgo masgiau y tu mewn.

Mae busnesau bwyd yr ardal yn dibynnu ar y fasnach a’r tymor twristiaeth. Rydyn ni eisiau dangos i ymwelwyr a'r bobl leol ein bod ni'n poeni a’n bod ni'n gwneud ein gorau i fod yn ddiogel. Er mwyn helpu gyda hyn, rydyn ni wedi gweithio'n agos gyda thafarndai’r ardal i gytuno y byddem ni i gyd yn cau am 10pm gan fod mwy o gwsmeriaid tu allan yn yfed ac mae'n gymysgedd o eiddo preswyl a masnachol. Mae hyn wedi gweithio'n dda i gadw lefel y sŵn i lawr a chadw'r bobl leol a'r ymwelwyr yn hapus.

Mae Dolgellau yn dref fach heb lawer o le i fwyta y tu allan, felly mae'r cyngor lleol wedi cytuno i fod yn fwy hyblyg yn eu hagwedd tuag at barcio fel y gallwn ni aros ar agor yn ddiogel a chael digon o le i gwsmeriaid.

Beth fyddech chi'n ei argymell i fusnesau eraill?

Bydden ni’n dweud edrychwch ar y gofod sydd gennych chi a bod yn realistig o ran beth sy'n bosibl. Roedden ni’n gwybod nad oedd ffordd i ni agor y caffi fel ag yr oedd gan nad oedd digon o le i'w redeg yn ddiogel. Roedd yn rhaid i ni edrych o’r newydd a meddwl beth fyddai’n bosibl i ni ei wneud.

Beth sydd ar y gweill dros y 6-12 mis nesaf ar gyfer eich busnes?

Erbyn hyn mae gennym ni fusnes gwin ar-lein ac mae angen i ni barhau i'w ddatblygu. Rydyn ni’n buddsoddi mewn gwella ein system archebu ar-lein ac rydym ni’n awyddus i wneud y broses mor llyfn â phosibl.

Mae gennym ni hefyd fwy o ystafelloedd ar yr ail lawr ac os ydyn ni’n gallu ei wneud yn ddiogel, hoffwn ni eu hagor i gynnig profiad bwyta preifat neu sesiynau blasu gwin i bobl sydd mewn swigen. Roedd yr ystafelloedd hyn yn arfer bod ar gyfer pan oedd y caffi yn llawn, ond rydyn ni wrthi’n meddwl pa bethau cyffrous y gallwn ni eu cynnig wrth barhau i gydymffurfio a diogelu ein cwsmeriaid.

Beth bynnag fydd yn digwydd, rydyn ni’n anelu at gadw'r siop ar agor a chanolbwyntio ar wella pob elfen o'r hyn rydyn ni'n ei gynnig. Mae ein profiad trwy gydol COVID-19 wedi bod fel dechrau busnes newydd eto, ond rydyn ni bellach yn gwybod y gallwn ni barhau i weithredu mewn cyfnod clo a chysylltu'n ddiogel â'n cwsmeriaid.

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