North Wales wine merchants raise a toast to the power of AI and record sales

A ground-breaking North Wales wine merchant harnessed the power of Artificial Intelligence to fuel record sales as it celebrates 10 years in business.

The husband and wife team of Dylan and Llinos Rowlands launched Gwin Dylanwad, based in Dolgellau, in Gwynedd,  in 2014 as a follow up to their successful restaurant in the town and a decade later they are going from strength to strength.

They revealed the secrets of their success at a social media masterclass organised as part of the pioneering Dyfodol Digidol (Digital Future) a Gwynedd Council Project.

The project has received funding from the Gwynedd Shared Prosperity Fund and is available free of charge to any businesses based in the county.

Companies that sign up get three one-to-one mentoring sessions from a digital expert and will be able to choose from 30 different training workshops which will be mainly online.

The aim is to help companies grow and prosper in Gwynedd, creating employment and help to halt the tide of rural depopulation with young people having to move away to find work.

The scheme is building on the success of a similar project, working with firms in the hospitality, food and drink industries, which helped inspire Gwin Dylanwad but the new version has been expanded to companies working in all sectors.

Llinos, a former teacher, said: “Just running a wine merchant’s in Dolgellau would not be a feasible business model but because we supply restaurants, cafes and hotels across North and Mid Wales it works.

“We have always used the internet as a marketing tool which has enabled us to reach a much wider clientele but since working with Lafan we have expanded our online sales through using social media.

“We have a presence on Facebook, X – formerly Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and even TikTok and the guidance we’ve received from the project has been invaluable.

“Our January sales were up 16 per cent on last year and every month since has shown an increase.

“Because we import our own wines, a lot of them from Europe, if someone has had one of our bottles and enjoyed it in a restaurant then they can find it on our website.

“We have a strong presence on social media and we have learned that if you try and sell your goods there you won’t get far but if you concentrate on brand recognition then that works and will drive people to your website.

“We write a blog and that is quite a challenge but AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a big help – I visited a Canadian vineyard last year and asked AI to write five paragraphs on Canadian ice wine and I added my input and it worked very well.

“It’s also important to train your staff. We send ours on vineyard visits and it does cost but when you listen to them talking to our customers about wine they really do pay for themselves.

“We are on a journey and I’m happy to help people but we’re also looking for help ourselves and that’s where the project has made a big difference.  The mentors know what it’s like to run a small business and that’s important to us.”

They hosted the event at their well-stocked café and wine shop on Porth Marchnad, in Dolgellau, where as well as Llinos and Dylan, Gwin Dylanwad employs three full-time and three part-time staff.

Customers can visit the shop for coffee and cake and taste their range of wines from around the world while Dylan also hosts a regular wine slot on S4C’s Prynhawn Da afternoon show.

Lafan consultant Jamie Hughes, an expert in developing brands and in the use of digital technology for business, said: “We look forward to supporting businesses to grow digitally, closing the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

“The first step is to establish what they need, whether that’s e-marketing, social media, choosing the right software, websites, e-commerce or accounting systems for example. We provide mentoring sessions, both face to face and online.

“E-marketing has the ability to transform the fortunes of a business and selling online can open up new markets and increase the customer base.

“Harnessing the power of the digital platforms can really boost a business in a rural area like Gwynedd.

“Selling online enables a business to be located anywhere so you don’t necessarily need retail premises in densely populated area.

“That means businesses can continue to grow and prosper in Gwynedd, creating employment and helping to halt the tide of rural depopulation where previously young people would have to move away to find work.

“Llinos and Dylan are a real inspiration to budding entrepreneurs in rural areas like this.”

In the audience was Barbara Hope, from Llan Ffestiniog, where she runs a guesthouse while her chef husband Richard who supplies picnics and afternoon teas to customers including the Ffestiniog Railway.

She said: “This has been really useful. I used to deliver training myself and I can see how this project could really help us for what we want to do in the future.”

Also there was Nia Medi, who runs Medi gift shop in Dolgellau, who said: “I’ve been here for 18 years and launched my website to get me through Covid.

“The price of hosting it has now shot up and I’m thinking of going through Shopify but really I need some one-on-one sessions.

“I’m looking for guidance because I’m finding it a bit overwhelming and I’m hoping the help I can get through Lafan will mean it will all click into place.”

Dyfodol Digidol is being brought forward for Gwynedd Council by Lafan in partnership with Anglesey-based innovation centre M-Sparc, website designers Gwe Cambrian and marketing company Marketshed.

For more information about the Dyfodol Digidol scheme contact Lafan by emailing them at  or ringing them on 01248 665624.

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