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City of London

A Business Built On Personal Passion

17 Apr 2019

IoD 99 member Yasemen Kaner-White not only learns more about wine but also how a business set up by foreigners can enhance its surroundings; the power of different cultures assimilating to create something new and exciting.

“We are very passionate about this project and bringing something new, it’s a great challenge to produce wine in this ancient land and to be a pioneer, it’s easy to come to an established place but completely different to build it from scratch with your own two hands” explains Lin Gold. Lin, Gillham’s resident winemaker holds coveted awards from the wine authority – ‘Decanter’. In the idyllic north, the less touristy part of Cyprus, sits this unique hotel perched in the mountains of Ilgaz, boasting birds-eye views overlooking the vineyard, stretching out to the sea. A meeting point of luxury and authenticity with its roots firmly in the joint wine-loving dreams of Paul Gilgamesh, who fell in love with the land and construction owners; the Friedman family. Whilst guests can do as the locals do; go for long walks or indeed horse rides in the mountains, stopping off for some cheese at the local cheese maker’s house in Kozan village along the way, Gillham’s niche is it’s wine.

The vineyard was established in 2016, with the hotel following last year in May. Hailing from Israel it was an easy transition for Lin to venture to Cyprus (a mere 1hr flight away) she found a similar climate and soil to work with. There’s a saying ‘vines should suffer to produce the best fruit’, with typically shallow soil in Cyprus, the saying proves true. Whilst incorporating classic varieties such as Merlot and Sauvignon blanc originating from France, they endeavour to use local varieties such as Xinomavro, as well as Turkish varieties. Having set up shop, locals soon came to them to ask advice, eventually setting up their own vineyard and producing wine for Gillham. Determined not to segregate themselves, the bar is very much a local haunt, with local music celebrating the island and beyond’s best singers. Soon you’ll be able to have your bottle embellished with your name, left to mature on the Gillham wine rack and the vinology even ventures into beauty treatments with wine baths filled with grape seed oil and red wine to soak away any stresses, grape seed massages are also available.

Eyal Lavy, one of Israel’s top chefs designed the seasonal menu where you’ll find an unusual fusion of Israeli and Cypriot cuisines to enjoy alongside your choice of excellent boutique house red, white or rosé. Expect home-made breads and jams highlighting indigenous ingredients. To ensure certain Savoir-faire at your next social excursion including wine, be sure to book in to a wine touur with Evrim. She explains that all the grapes at Gillham are handpicked at night time, for the best quality of grape, “ night time is cooler, so there are less sugar and alcohol levels present”. Originally from Athens, growing up in a wine loving family, she recounts making handmade wine with her grandma, without machinery – the ‘old-school’ method. With a monthly change of wine topic available, both locals and guests are offered fresh ideas regularly, with topics covering the history, methodology, myths, legends, food, pairings and perhaps to ease your conscience – health properties too. Best tip? – “if drinking one wine then another type, eat two slices of green apple in-between, the natural acid cleans the palette”. You’re welcome!

For more information on my trip:

Related reads: Yasemen's previous IoD 99 blog on self-publishing your passion

Learn more about the amazing business support network for entrepreneurs and start-up founders, the IoD 99!

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