On the up · 23 August 2017

The Vino Van: A mobile prosecco bar proving a hit at festivals, events and weddings

Vino Van 5
Siobhan Holmes: “Learning to reverse a horse trailer is not easy”

After noticing a gap in the market for something that was unique for prosecco-lovers, Siobhan Holmes quit her day job earlier this year to launch The Vino Van – a converted horse box providing prosecco on tap to thirsty partygoers at summertime events around the UK.

Having come up with the idea just six months ago, the 29-year-old entrepreneur is already inundated with business requests, and has spent the summer touring the country, catering for festivals, events and weddings in her pink van.

Originally from Corby, Holmes’ business has so far been based predominantly in the Northamptonshire area, but the young entrepreneur has more ambitious plans for her new brand.

By next summer, she hopes to have expanded The Vino Van across the UK, and be supplying more of the country with its favourite drink for celebrating in the sun. Business Advice caught up with Holmes over one of her unique prosecco-based cocktails. 

(1)      Who are you and what’s your business?

I’m Siobhan Holmes, I’m 29 and I own The Vino Van, a horse trailer that I lovingly restored (over the course of the difficult winter) and re-modelled for a new life as a mobile prosecco bar.

Vino Van 3(2)      How long have you been around for?

Not long at all. We launched on 1 April 2017, so we’re very new to being out there in the crowds at events. The van was restored relatively quickly and we started trading as soon as we could – business planning, gathering resources and getting the initial plans off the ground were the more time-consuming elements.

(3)   How do you make money?

I offer packages for private events such as weddings, birthday celebrations and corporate gatherings – anywhere that a glass of prosecco wouldn’t go amiss!

We also attend organised events, such as food and drink fairs, country shows and festivals where we sell prosecco and prosecco-based cocktails.

(4)     What makes you different and why should people take notice?

Well there’s not many horse trailers converted into mobile prosecco bars around, so we definitely stand out. We’re completely self-contained, so we can set up shop (almost) anywhere. I’m also yet to meet anyone who does not get excited about the prospect of prosecco on tap.

(5)    What was key in terms of getting started?

The legal side of things, such as getting a personal alcohol licence. I was completely new to the alcohol and hospitality industry, so everything was a learning curve. There is so much more to offering this service to the public, most of which happens behind the scenes, such as licenses, insurance and approved training to name but a few.

(6)   What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I hosted my own prosecco and cheese festival which included different cheese traders, and I had three bars running. The Vino Van itself, a rose gold prosecco bar and a prosecco cocktail bar – it was a great success!

The Vino Van has also had a lot of interest from the national press. An appearance in Stylish magazine kick started lots of other requests for interviews, so I’m very proud of that.

(7)      What setbacks have you had along the way?

Vino Van 1

The hardest part was taking the trailer license test. Learning to reverse a horse trailer is not as easy as you might imagine. I’ve always considered myself a good driver but that was very testing. It’s getting easier every time now.

(8)   In five years’ time, I will be…

Running a range of different bars. The Vino Van will have a number of sister vans out there adding the fizz to any party we’re invited to. I hope to expand to other specialist bars too, maybe not all mobile ones.

(9)  What one tip would you give to others starting out

Don’t be unrealistic about the amount of time it will take to get your venture off the ground, and definitely don’t imagine that it will be all glamour – it won’t be!

It’s very hard work, but if it’s something you love then you really won’t mind. If it doesn’t work out then at least you know you have tried, go back, re-tweak the idea, and try again.

(10)   Who are your business heroes and why?

I really admire Richard Branson. I love his vision – he’s always been an inspiration to me.  I admire that he has achieved so very much through smart, strategic thinking, hard work and what seems to be an unshakeable faith in himself and his ideas. He’s also dyslexic, like me.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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