One of the most memorable – and inspiring – aspects of the Covid-19 crisis is how individuals and businesses have responded and, in many cases, gone way beyond the norm to not just look after themselves at this time, but rather think of others and go to extraordinary lengths to help them. It’s why The Buyer has started its new ‘Raise A Glass To’ series to shine the spotlight on the people we think deserve particular praise. Today we salute the amazing efforts of Graft Wine’s Nik Darlington. Here’s why…
Nik Darlington has not just stood out once during Covid-19, but twice with his efforts to support the South African wine industry and separately raise money for The Drinks Trust and promote English wine. Nik…we Raise a Glass To You!
As a journalist you’re trained not to use cliches in your copy…but as a fellow journalist himself we’re sure Nik Darlington, co-founder of Graft Wine Company, would like the fact he has not just gone the proverbial ‘extra mile’ during the Covid-19, he managed to run a 100 of them.
Yes, that was just one of the feats that Darlington has managed to achieve during the months of lockdown, when he decided to try and do his bit to help raise much needed money for The Drinks Trust to help those impacted by Covid-19.
Now if you want to raise money by running then the usual distance would be a marathon. No-one would expect you go to further than that. But Darlington had a bigger goal in mind.
In order to raise as much as money as possible Darlington decided to embark on a 100-mile fund raising effort that would do two things: raise money for The Drinks Trust; but by choosing routes that ran alongside and through English vineyards across the North and South Downs, he was able to help promote and publicise the efforts of the English wine industry to coincide with the 2020 English Wine Week.
Oh, and he also decided to run those 100 miles in just seven days. That’s just over 14 miles a day.
You can still donate to his Just Giving page here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/english-wine-week-100k-challenge.
Great British Braai Off
As well as supporting the UK drinks sector, Darlington also looked further afield and in May galvanised the UK wine trade, in particular, to come together and do what they could to help support and shine the light on the South African wine industry that has been do badly hit by its government’s clampdown on alcohol sales to try and control Covid-19.
By the end of May South Africa’s ban on exporting wine had been lifted – even though the domestic ban was still in place, as it is once again now – and Darlington thought it was a great opportunity for the UK wine industry to do what it could to raise its own glass to South Africa and go out and buy its wines and get some money flowing back into its supply chain.
Here’s how he explained what he hoped the Great British Braai Off could achieve in an article written for The Buyer: “When I was thinking how best to help South Africa’s wine producers, the braai was the obvious hook. Because South Africa’s wine producers desperately need our help.”
He says the reason a braai felt like the best way of showing our support was just how important it is to the South African way of life.
He explains: “To me the whole idea of the braai encapsulates so much that we have lost, at least while we grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic: physical companionship, free assembly, shared experiences, the great outdoors.
“To South Africans, the braai is more than just a barbecue. It wouldn’t be orotund to say the braai is an institution, a way of life even. The Radford Dale and Reverie winemaker Jacques de Klerk recently told me, paraphrasing Lily Bollinger, “when we’re happy, we braai, when we’re sad, we braai, when we’re free, we braai, when we’re in lockdown, we braai!”
Darlington launched, promoted and championed The Great British Braai Off for the late May Bank Holiday weekend and hopes to turn it into a national event.
(Here’s him getting into the spirit with his own braai tips)
He has even set up a standalone website and social media channels on Twitter (@BraaiOff) and Instagram to help promote the initiative, but also capture the many videos and ways in which people got involved. Including tips on how to braai from several South African winemakers, as well as recipes from chefs, such as The Buyer’s very own Roger Jones.
As well as these two amazing initiatives, Darlington has throughout the lockdown taken to Twitter and Instagram to continuously champion and promote independent wine merchants across the country and raise awareness of all the steps they have been doing through this time.
We know Darlington does not do any of these things to pick up gongs and rewards for himself, but, sorry, we think you massively deserve the respect and thanks of the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors for all that you have done.
So here’s Raising a Glass to You….