Vin Van Cymru is the latest wine merchant to join the steadily growing ranks of Welsh indies.
Owner Sara Hobday launched the shop in the newly reopened Newport Market in March, following the success of the online and events business she started two years ago.
Hobday says that her original plan didn’t really involve retail. “I was hosting pop-up Welsh wine tastings and then the pandemic hit, so I went back to the drawing board and that’s where the online side of things came from,” she explains.
“But I like talking to people and having a conversation, so that’s why I’ve been keen to open a physical space, where I can see people.”
Previously the business had been operating solely from The Bridge Studios in Cardiff, a creative workspace consisting of upcycled shipping containers, which Hobday used mostly for storage and as a delivery hub.
While she says it would never have been suitable as a retail venue, she admits it works very well as an outside bar. “Flowerhorn Brewery is based at the Studios,” she says. “They moved in just after I did. They built a taproom on site and we shared the space. I’m definitely keeping the unit there and will be reopening the wine bar in April. As soon as the weather improves, it’s going to be buzzing. I’ve had people messaging me saying, ‘I’ve had to drink gin and tonic for months, when are you reopening the bar?’”
Hobday is working with ABS, Vintage Roots and Berkmann, who she says have all been “really supportive”. She sources most of her Welsh wines direct from the vineyards and she’s also hoping to add a few more Welsh gems from Daniel Lambert’s portfolio.
The recent move into retail has allowed Hobday to increase her wine selection. “The Welsh wine range has expanded since moving into the shop and that will continue to grow,” she says.
“I also want to work on the German section. I want to get more variety; I want to try different things all the time.
“During the pandemic I was concentrating on quality, affordable wines and now I think people are happier to spend more on a nice sparkling instead of Prosecco from Tesco. So I’m trying to expand the higher-end wines, which I wasn’t able to do before, and that is exciting for me.”