This month in-Cumbria is profiling some of the county’s young entrepreneurs and top employees. Stacey Lee Raath, 30, and Harry Appleyard, 31, are the couple behind Northern Wine in Kendal  

Tell us about your business/job… 

We started an urban winery, making wine from English grapes. Our model involves working closely with growers in Essex to source fruit. In September and October, we help with harvest and then drive the grapes up to our winery in Kendal. We make the wine together and are a team in all aspects of the business.  

When did you start in the role/set up the business? 

The business has been a dream we’ve been trying to make a reality since 2020 but we officially started the winemaking in September 2022. 

How does being a young person impact on your work? 

Being younger probably means we’re optimistic (and naïve) enough to think we can just start our own business and make it work. We have fewer financial obligations which means we can risk it all with less to lose. We’re also fortunate to come from a generation who seem to believe they should enjoy what they do and that you can create work that you are passionate about. Luckily we also have supportive parents and friends who believe in what we’re doing. 

The negative bit of being younger is that we have less experience with business and fewer contacts in our network who we can call on for advice and support. However, there’s such an amazing network of small businesses and artisanal producers in Kendal and the surrounds that we’ve managed to overcome this aspect. With us being so passionate about what we’re doing we have also had to learn to be patient and more considered in our decisions rather than jumping in too quickly, which probably comes with age. 

Where/how have you learnt your skills?  

We have had hugely influential mentors in winemaking as we’ve learnt how to make wine on the job rather than at a university. Harry ran a business straight out of university which taught him a lot about the administration side of running one. We’ve both learnt a great deal from watching how people we respect do business, especially the small artisanal businesses up North. The urban wineries in London, Cambridge and Sydney who paved the way for our business model have also been a source of inspiration. 

What motivates you in your working life? 

Our passion for winemaking is the core motivation. We genuinely love what we do! Our holidays are planned around winemaking regions and wine bars. Most of our conversations with friends end up being long chats about winemaking, wines we’re drinking and wines we’d like to drink. Our desire to make something sustainable in terms of a business but also the environment is a driving force. At this stage we haven’t felt the ‘Sunday/Monday blues’ at all which shows we’re doing something right. We also genuinely like spending time together which makes it fun and easy. 

What are your ambitions - both in work and life? 

Our work and life are pretty intricately linked at this stage. Overall, our ambition is to make the best wine we can while fostering good relationships with everyone we work with. We’d like to create a lifestyle where we get to make wines we really love with the balance and freedom to get to travel and enjoy life outside of the business as well (most likely in a vineyard or drinking wine anyway). Being able to employ people who love working for us and giving them opportunities to explore their passions too is one of our big goals. 

Who do you admire in the business world? 

There’s a lot of artisanal producers doing really great things in Cumbria who we’re constantly inspired by. To mention only a few is difficult. What John Dunning has managed to do with the Westmorland family is really inspiring, we love the focus on local producers. We think Andrew Carter and Tim Bloomer of Fell Brewery have created something special with amazing staff retention and a dynamic business model.  

Do you have a role model? 

Our parents have been big influences for both of us throughout our lives. Stacey’s uncle ran his own business and was a huge inspiration for her in terms of his grit and determination.  

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years' time? 

Still making wine, with a small vineyard of our own but still working closely with growers to get the best fruit we can. Hopefully travelling to different wine regions to keep learning and maybe to other countries that stock our wines in the future. We have quite a few passions so who knows, we may have a few side projects on the go too. 

What would your advice be to other young people setting out on their career? 

Adaptability has played a huge part in our business journey, where we are now is not at all where we thought we’d end up. It’s way better! So be open-minded about the possibilities. Try to balance out sticking to your vision but knowing when to change it up. We’ve found that being willing to put in the hard work for yourself is essential but being willing to ask for help has played a vital role too. Creativity in how you go about something can mean you save money and help you make wiser decisions and you may well end up with a unique product or service as a result. Willingness to learn how to do a lot of things yourself means you gain a bunch of new skills, become more independent and save some money too. Most importantly, don’t get so caught up in where you’re going that you forget to celebrate the small wins.