FOUR businesses from the Cardigan area have been crowned the best in Wales at the Amazon Rural Business Awards 2018.
Crwst, in Cardigan, Croft Farm and Celtic Cottages, Bluestone Brewery at Cilgwyn and Make it in Wales at Newcastle Emlyn all took the coveted accolade in their categories at a glittering ceremony held at The Kinmel, Abergele.
Crwst, which opened this year in Priory Street, scooped the top gong in the Best Rural Start-up Category. The eatery offers a relaxed and contemporary atmosphere for casual dining, drinking and socialising with an emphasis on local and seasonal produce. Crwst are proud to showcase that they make everything in-house, including the breads, pastries and cakes
Owner Catrin Jones said: “We are unbelievably proud to receive the Rural Business Award for Best Rural Start-up. Having been highly commended in the 2017 awards, this win means even more to us.
“Contributing to the rural way of life is one of our top priorities. We are very lucky to have a vast range of amazing local producers in our area, and it's important to us to support and promote them.
“Because of these values, we are so glad to be part of a programme like the Rural Business Awards, which does so much to help the rural economy thrive.”
The Best Rural Tourism Business went to Croft Farm & Celtic Cottages, just outside Cardigan. Situated in stunning countryside, it has been Andy and Sylvie Gow’s home, lifestyle and livelihood since 1987. Andy puts his skills into hospitality and maintenance and Sylvie works on admin and details. 
Croft Farm boasts an eco-friendly main site with centralised biomass boilers giving carbon neutral heating and hot water for the luxury cottages, indoor heated pool and leisure facilities. There's also a sauna, gym, indoor and outdoor play areas and farm animals. 
Andy said: “We have spent the last 30 years providing memorable, stress-free holidays. We are passionate about delivering high quality, and increasingly environmentally-friendly, family-orientated breaks. 
“Participating in the Rural Business Awards has been a wonderful experience, which we would recommend to any other rural businesses out there. Receiving such an accolade for our business is truly something to celebrate.”
Bluestone Brewing won Outstanding Rural Diversification Project Winner, while it was also runner-up in the Best Rural Drink Business section.
The Brewhouse is housed in the old, traditional farm buildings of Tyriet farm, a classic North Pembrokeshire sheep and beef hill farm. Since being set up in 2015, the brewery has not only established a great rapport locally, but also further afield, all possible due to the exciting branding, plus award-winning ales/lager. 
During the summer period the brew yard comes alive with a series of live events, and a bustling shop and bar. Everything they do is with looking after the environment in mind. 
Marketing manager Emily Hutchinson said: “We are thrilled to receive recognition in two categories at the Rural Business Awards. Just over five years ago, we realised that the scale of our farm was at a stage where it needed to either grow or diversify, and so Bluestone Brewing was born. 
“We aim to produce great tasting, award-winning beers and market them around the world, flying the flag for Welsh artisan producers. Events like this are crucial to boosting rural businesses, and winning the award just adds to our belief in our business and our determination to continue growing.”
Make it in Wales, based at Pentrecagal, offers a variety of high-quality craft workshops in the coastal region of West Wales and scooped the Best Rural Creative or Media-based Business award. 
The courses are designed to be relaxing breaks where participants can learn new skills and make lovely things in a beautiful setting. Teaming up with the best designer-makers in Wales, Make it in Wales offers one-day, weekend and longer creative breaks.
Director and co-owner Suzi Park said: “I am unbelievably proud to receive the award. I personally curate my business to ensure that my customers enjoy a high-quality learning and personal experience.
"They not only learn new skills but also leave us understanding what goes into making a hand-crafted item, thus appreciating the skills of local makers. I am passionate about promoting the work of local artists and makers, and so am thrilled to be a part of this awards programme, which shines a light on the wonderful work done by so many rural businesses.”
All four businesses will now go on to represent Wales at the UK national finals in February.
Gwenllan Country Crafts, a small business based just north of Newcastle Emlyn, was also nominated at the awards but missed out on the top prize in the Best Rural Retail Business.
Creating bespoke gifts for country lovers nationwide, it has grown in popularity with a strong online fan base. From jewellery made from spent shotgun cartridges and used rifle rounds, through to personalised wallets and phone cases, not forgetting their unique range of vibrant feather bow ties which fly worldwide to countries such as the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, and Barbados to mention but a few, it would be hard to pass this by as a now global entity. 
While the business is based mainly online, its founder, Ceredigion-born Emma Sian Monk, is a familiar face at many of the rural shows held throughout Wales.