A wine producer from the south of the island would like to see action taken on taxes that affect its business.

Ventosus Micro Winery is run by husband and wife Rob and Sarah Matson in Port St Mary.

There is nothing new about the idea of small commercial wineries kaing wines using grape juice.

Sarah said: ‘The concept around a micro winery is that you make the wine but without growing the ingredients.’

So it’s a winery without a vineyard. All the work that turns imported grape juice into wine is done in the Isle of Man.

The official production capacity, which they are building up to at their winery in Port St Mary is around 800 bottles a month. They do a range of eight different wines: three reds four whites and a rose.

The grape juice for each wine comes from exactly where you might expect the best grapes for that particular wine to be grown. The juice for the Cabernet Shiraz, for example, comes from Australia; the Pinot Grigio juice from Italy, and the juice for the white Burgundy from France.

Having launched about 18 months ago, the products have won praise and customers.

But it was hit when the UK Chancellor put up duty by 20%.

Under the Customs and Excise Agreement with the UK, most indirect taxes, including taxes on alcohol and VAT, are charged at the same rate.

‘We are being taxed the same as a multinational,’ said Rob. ‘My concern is there is a small producers’ relief which, bizarrely, is judged on strength of output not volume.

‘I’d like see this made the right size for the Isle of Man.’

Ventosus cannot get small producers’ relief without cutting the alcohol content in the wine.

Rob called for the government to ‘reverse engineer’ the small producers’ relief for the Isle of Man.

‘There must be some way to do that,’ he said.

Spirits producers are similarly affected by the issue.

Rob did say that he and Sarah had been helped a lot by the Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture.

‘We’re involved with the DEFA and other food and drink producers.

‘The island has an astonishing array of food and drink producers. There’s no question.

‘The DEFA has just employed [chief officer] Scott Gallacher, who clearly knows his stuff. But I think he also recognises there is quite a challenge locally on a number of fronts.

‘We were at a meeting with them and other producers a fortnight ago.

‘He presents very well but he has a big job.’

Rob said that all food and drink companies faced similar issues.

‘There needs to be better coordination across government.

‘We hear a lot about buying local, so, OK, let’s get some help from government to do that.

‘We’re not asking for money, we’re asking for more media coverage and advertising.’

He said that they were aware that more money was now going into promotion next year.

But he pointed out: ‘If you go into the TT area at the Grandstand you cannot find anything Manx in it.

‘It’s an international event with lots of influential people there.’

The company has had a busy time and grown in its first 18 months.

It was represented at the Southern Agricultural Show and the Royal Manx, plus the Food and Drink Show.

Business was brisk.

Sarah said: ‘We had only three of us at the Southern Show. Big mistake! It was a lot busier than we thought it was going to be.

‘We had five staff at the Royal Manx and that was busy too. One of the young lads working with us said nobody will buy anything at 9am. But by 9.05am we’d sold four bottles of wine.’

At the shows, they have a festival bar made for sampling wines.

‘We’ve now been doing a lot of corporate and personal wine-tasting events. That can include anything from them wanting us to come into their office to give them a taster session.’

They also supplied some companies with wine for their Christmas parties as the word gets out about the business.

They are also able to be flexible to cater for more specific needs. One client wanted food provided so they hired out Vibe Cafe on Market Hill, Douglas, whose staff paired canapes with wines.

They have also been involved in charity walk, giving raffle prizes for the Butterfly Ball (a breast cancer charity event), Ramsey Youth Football Club and the Island Games tennis team. More recently, they provided wine for a Southern Farmers event.

In February, they will be working with Hospice Isle of Man for a ‘paint and Pinot’ night, in which an artist will guide participants how to draw as they enjoy a drink of wine.

The wine is currently sold at Tynwald Mills and the Woodbourne Deli, which featured on these pages a few weeks ago.

They have just launched a mini-range, a set of three small bottles in a gift box, which are available at both retailers and on the company’s website.

They are also working with the Creamery supplying its cheese with bottles of wine for hampers that they deliver themselves.

Robinsons has also got their wine in their hampers.

The couple say one of the issues that they face is that people don’t believe that wine is made in the Isle of Man.

Rob said: ‘We hold the provenance label, to say that our product is made in the Isle of Man, which is important to local producers.

‘The “made in the Isle of Man” label is given to most drinks producers.

‘Fynoderee don’t have their own sugar cane field [for rum], the breweries don’t have their own hop fields. We don’t have our own vineyard.

‘We get asked a lot about importing wine. We say we’re the same as Fynoderee, we’re the same as the breweries, we import the ingredients’.

So what makes it different from supermarket wines?

Sarah said: The main thing is that Rob takes it right back to the original way of making wine. We don’t add any extra chemicals.’

Rob said: ‘We’ve been working with a sommelier for two years who has been involved in making wine since 2007. He’s given us some really good, positive feedback and we’ve made tweaks. I think that’s been reflected in the demand at the live shows.’

Why are they so passionate about it?

‘I think it’s because it’s so different,’ said Rob.

‘We’re not your bargain bucket. Originally we were looking at that price bracket and quickly realised we couldn’t compete with that.

‘We’re also not trying to pretend we’re some kind of wildly connoisseur Chateau Lafite kind of operation.

‘We think we’re providing really good wines at good prices.

Sarah said: ‘They’re for people who appreciate a nice meal and a nice bottle of wine.’

They are now looking forward to working with more Manx food and drink producers later this year year, the shows and to launching a new website.