Amber Valley Wines duo pop corks after catching the attention of former Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis
A BUSINESS which is aiming to become the first winery in Amber Valley has been given a boost after catching the attention of former Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis.
Amber Valley Wines has been highlighted by the entrepreneur after winning his latest Small Business Sunday Twitter competition.
This sees businesses invited to send a "tweet" to Mr Paphitis. He then selects six of his favourites which he re-tweets to his thousands of followers – boosting their exposure.
This week, Amber Valley Wines was one of the six firms the multi-millionaire businessman decided to single out. The company was founded in 2011 by wine enthusiasts Duncan Mercer and Barry Lewis, who gained experience by growing vines in their back gardens.
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Early last year, they planted two acres of vines on a hillside in Wessington.
They are planning to plant a further four acres this year and start building a winery early next year.
Mr Mercer, of Wessington, said: "We were over the moon when we were selected by Theo. This is basically a free prestigious promotion that allows us to access excellent advice from one of the best businessmen and entrepreneurs out there."
Mr Lewis, of Heage, said: "This really couldn't have come at a better time and will give real momentum to our business."
To get a mention on Mr Paphitis' website, Mr Mercer and Mr Lewis had to describe their business in one tweet.
They wrote: "Opportunity to taste the success yourself @TheoPaphitis Amber Valley Wines – New Thinking for Finer Drinking."
Mr Mercer said: "When our business was selected it sent our Twitter feed crazy."
The selection of Amber Valley Wines also entitles it to permanent membership of Mr Paphitis' SBS Club, which will allow it to get top tips from the entrepreneur.
The use of Twitter has played a key role in helping the business get off the ground. The firm has already planted hundreds of vines with the help of volunteers who follow it on the social networking website.
The company is aiming to produce white and rose wine – as well as some sparkling wines – as these grapes grow better in the UK climate. But Mr Mercer and Mr Lewis do not expect to start producing wine until at least next year. The firm hopes to produce its first vintage in 2014 or 2015 and then ramp up to full production in four years' time, producing between 2,000 and 4,000 bottles a year.
In the meantime, while they wait for their vines to grow, Mr Mercer and Mr Lewis will be launching an online store, called The English Wine Shop.
It will give people the chance to try a wide range of English wines.