A family enterprise, incorporating a winery and a function area, has managed to stay afloat during tough times, even receiving plaudits.
Dee and Brendon Lawlor oversee the Wombat Forest Vineyard, which will mark 25 years of existence in 2022, and the Burrow Event Space, which was established five years ago.
The Lawlors' son Brad and their daughter-in-law Ally assist them with the event space.
Both ventures are based on a picturesque Denver property, 17 kilometres from Daylesford, the family's historical links to the region stretching back to the late 1830s.
Despite the two businesses being heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, public acknowledgement has come in recent times.
The vineyard has made the finals of the VICCAA community achievement awards in the field of customer service with the winner to be announced.
The Burrow Event Space has been highly commended in two categories of the Bride's Choice Awards 2021, one associated with planning and one associated with the winery.
These accolades follow on from the Burrow being ranked in the top wedding hotspots in the world in 2018 by website, The Venue Report.
Dee Lawlor felt excitement upon finding out about the recognition, joy coming after two difficult years.
"The awards give you a boost, (but we have been under an) enormous amount of pressure," Mrs Lawlor reflected.
"Keeping our business alive and viable is crucial.
"Most of our staff are casual workers so, if we had have been employing people full-time, we would have gone under for sure."
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Mrs Lawlor knows full well the challenges of running small businesses reliant on tourism and functions over the past 20 months.
"(There has been) a huge loss of foot traffic through the property and sales on the vineyard side," Mrs Lawlor said.
"On the wedding side, we've had to reschedule 60 weddings. With the first lockdown last year, we had 12 weddings waiting to happen.
"Every time we reschedule, Ally spends a lot of time ringing around to support the couple. She rings personally all the vendors - the caterer, the florist. 'This is what's happened. Are you able to move? Is it possible to accommodate the couple on the (new) date?'"
The ceasing of international travel has also dealt a hefty blow to profit margins.
"Prior to all of this, just under 20 per cent of our weddings were international," Mrs Lawlor said.
"(Previously,) we've had weddings from New York, London, France, and New Zealand."
The Lawlor family goes above and beyond when fulfilling its commitments to its client base.
In one instance, when only five people were allowed to be in attendance at a wedding, a bride-to-be's father was terminally ill.
"We were able to accommodate them," Mrs Lawlor recalled.
"They were able to come within the regulations so (the father) could witness (the wedding) and they could still get photos of the day. It was really sad, but we were lucky we could accommodate them that way."
So impressed has been one American couple, the engaged pair remain desperate to travel to the southern hemisphere to take advantage of the family's hospitality.
"This couple from New York are determined to have their wedding here in December," Mrs Lawlor said.
"They are prepared to go to all the lengths."
The Lawlors continue to persevere, although there are many obstacles still to overcome.
"We've been open again for three weeks, but there's hardly been anybody coming through," Mrs Lawlor said.
"People are fatigued and also nervous in getting out and about."
Necessity has been the mother of invention and the family has shown initiative to survive.
"You're forced to reinvent your business," Mrs Lawlor said.
To encourage nuptials, Ally has created virtual tours of the property.
Gift packs, including a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white wine, and postage to anywhere in Victoria, are available for $70.
Prior to one of the more recent lockdowns, incentives were provided to attract visitors.
"We were doing live music and free entry to encourage the locals to get out and about," Mrs Lawlor said.
Mrs Lawlor's will to thank loyal customers remains evident.
"We thought we need to give back to the community. We have an annual local day that we host," she said.
"We put on free music, free entry, to say 'thank you' to those who support us. We'll continue doing that."
The family is also looking ahead, keenly anticipating an opening-up. Online advertisements for hard-to-get hospitality staff have been posted, with roles for a night supervisor, bar staff, and support staff.
"We've got our existing staff, but if all goes well with this roadmap, we'll be flat out from November through to May," Mrs Lawlor predicted.
"We're family-friendly so a couple of our staff have little children. When they're not able to do a shift, we need someone else to step in."
Just as others have survived with the help of the community, so to have the Lawlors.
"The local community has been amazing in its support for us," Mrs Lawlor, full of gratitude, professed.
"Word-of-mouth is seeing more and more people pop in for the winery.
"You get locals coming in and saying, just out of the blue, 'I want to buy a dozen bottles of wine or half-a-dozen bottles'.
"I had a phone call from one gentleman saying, 'My partner and I have got friends in Melbourne. We'd like to order three gift packs to promote to our friends in Melbourne this is what's available on the other side of lockdown'."
There have even been more local wedding inquiries, stemming from areas like Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo, and Kyneton.
Mrs Lawlor remains resolute and appreciative of community backing.
"It's giving us enough to keep going," she said.
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