THE WINE MERCHANT.
An independent magazine for independent retailers
Issue 50, August 2016
We got there, folks … we got there
Jonathan Charles’ Dorset Wine Company is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a move to a stunning new development in Poundbury, near Dorchester. Full story on page 4.
Indies could succeed in another 200 locations
The UK could sustain another 200
new independents, including seven areas in
independent wine shops, bringing the total Birmingham alone.
to around 1,000, according to a major new
Scotland could sustain seven more
merchants, the research suggests, while
David Dodd, formerly of Wal-Mart and one Wales and Northern Ireland should be able
of the UK’s most respected location planning to accommodate two apiece – though only in
managers, has divided the country into 19,500 Cardiff and Belfast.
districts and pinpointed the markets that
Brighton, Bristol and Reading each has room
mirror the characteristics of places where top- for four new wine shops. But Cornwall looks
performing merchants already exist.
to have reached saturation point and is not
Forty of the top 200 locations on the list are in represented in the top 200.
London, although the catchment area that tops The project was sponsored by Wine
the table is West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, Intelligence and forms the basis of a new
followed by Didsbury in Greater Manchester. report which analyses the state of play in the
Fifteen locations in the West Midlands have been identified as fertile ground for
independent wine trade. • Full report: pages 20 to 24.
Don’t think we haven’t written about Pokémon Go
4 comings & GOINGS
The merchant aiming for garden centre growth
8 tried & TESTED
Eight wines that made us happy this month
12 fareham wine cellar
25 years of cheerfully defying the metropolitan logic
18 david williams
Do Balkan warlords write wine back labels?
28 WINE MERCHANT LUNCH
Exploring the potential of all four levels of Chablis
36 FOCUS ON CHILE
Boutique offerings are now as established as mainstream
47 MAKE A DATE
It’s going to be a very busy September, people
52 supplier Bulletin
Essential updates from agents and suppliers
Here for the Pinot or the Pokémon?
Does Pokémon Go herald the opening up of a whole new way for retailers to attract footfall?
The Amathus shop in Leadenhall Market in the City of London was among the first retailers to find itself designated as a Pokéstop following the much-hyped launch of the Pokémon Go augmented reality game. There’s also a Pokéstop opposite its store in Soho.
Pokémon Go combines video with real world gaming, with players visiting locations in their neighbourhood to capture Pokémon characters using their smartphones.
Pokéstops are locations of extra significance where players can collect items such as Pokémon eggs and Poké Balls, which they can use to advance their position in the game.
Some Pokéstops, such as coffee shops, are using the designation – randomly bestowed by the game’s bespoke software – to welcome players, generate trade and activate special offers. Businesses can also sign up to the game to buy “coins” which they can trade for “lures” or “incense” – both of which attract a short-term supply of Pokémon characters to a location that can act as a magnet to players.
Amathus publicised its own Leadenhall Pokéstop status on its Twitter feed.
The company’s Nick Bell says: “We tweeted about it because it’s been trending so heavily.
“We have seen people coming in to the shop hunting for them. It’s causing people to go into places but they’re not buying anything.”
At the moment, retailers can’t choose to sign up to become centres for the game but it is reported that its makers are looking at ways to incorporate commercial sponsorship opportunities.
With characters and special status currently parachuted into locations, becoming a draw to under-18 players could perhaps compromise drinks’ stores licensing responsibilities.
But Bell says: “Most of the people [playing the game] are old enough to drink. I don’t think that will be a problem.”
Pokémon Go is an evolution by San Francisco-based Niantic Labs – in partnership with Google, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company – of its Ingress game, which uses the same global mapping technology and has achieved 14 million downloads since its launch in 2012.
Pokémon Go topped this, with 15 million downloads within a few days in the US alone.
The big potential for retail may not lie in the game itself, but in how the technology it uses is applied in future. For now, the jury’s out.
“Some of them aren’t looking up from their phones, to be honest,” says Bell.
Cheers cruises to sales success
Swansea independent Cheers Wine Merchants invited its customers on a world cruise as part of a partnership with one of its wholesale customers.
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 2
Cheers teamed up with the Ship Inn at Port Eynon on the Gower Peninsula for the World Cruise series of events, which took diners on monthly voyages around themed menus from a number of different international cuisines for £37.50 a head.
Dafydd Morris of the independent merchant explains: “There were five legs starting in March, setting off going east through Europe to the Far East, Australia and New Zealand and after that back to Hawaii and the Americas.
“Each meal was five courses – we picked wines to accompany each of them and talked through each wine and why we selected it.
“It was a lovely concept and worked really well. We do tastings with loads of restaurants but the cruise night was the best we’ve done to get after-sales.
“One reason it worked was that the price was quite high which meant we could pick better wines. I’m hoping they’re going to repeat it next year.”
Cheers recently organised its first ever wine trip for its customers, visiting the Franciacorta region of northern Italy, with which the company has “a healthy obsession”.
HIgher pricing meant better quality wines
Bye bye blog, the kids want video
St Andrews Wine Company in Fife has turned to video to tell customers about new wines and spirits in its range.
Owner Peter Wood and his team have begun making Two-Minute Tasting videos showcasing new additions – and even trying out wines that aren’t stocked, including some brought back from Malta by a friend.
“Some of them go on a little longer than two minutes but the idea is just to show that we try everything that comes in the shop and give our opinions on things,” Wood explains.
“The hope is that they’ll become a bit more entertaining and in time get a bit more profile.”
The videos have replaced regular written posts on the St Andrews Wine website’s blog page.
“From 2008 to 2010 I had a wine blog which I got a lot of people reading. Now, pictures are what people want. Everyone’s busy: this is the sort of thing you can watch on your way to work or waiting for a bus.
“A lot of our customers are social mediasavvy and Facebook is their chosen method of watching it. YouTube is important because it’s rapidly becoming a lot of people’s go-to search engine.”
Wood has also teamed up with Simon Tardivel of St Andrews Brewing to produce a gin in a business that stands alone from the wine shop.
Morris Gin is being contract-made by a Scottish distiller.
“A lot of people over-dilute their gin and tonics,” says Wood. “They will put in a 25cl shot of gin and then chuck a bottle of Fever Tree tonic on it, with an eight to one
dilution, so a lot of the subtleties are gone. “So the idea was to devise a recipe for a
gin that opens up when it’s diluted. If you look at whisky: when you taste it you dilute it with water and it opens up more delicate flavours.
“A lot of botanicals go into it. It’s a big punchy gin when you taste it neat but when you add tonic it opens up more sweetness and citrus and spice flavours.
“We didn’t want it to be St Andrews Gin Company because it wouldn’t be clear whether it was to do with us or the beer. One day a Morris Minor pulled up outside and I blurted out ‘the Morris Gin Company’ and we liked the sound of it.”
Peter Wood, as seen on TV
Smashed window is a charity boost
A new wine merchant in Manchester has hosted a sell-out party for charity as a thank-you to customers who rallied round when the shop was vandalised.
Grape to Grain in Prestwich received offers of money to replace a window that was smashed in.
As the damage was covered by their insurance, owners Barry Van Goethem and Tom Sneesby decided sell £10 tickets for the event to raise money for local charity Creative Living Centre.
Plans for the party were advertised on the shop’s website under the heading: “Bollocks to the vandals”.
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 3
“Our Man with the Facts”
• Ernest Hemingway invented the cocktail Death in the Afternoon. His instructions, contributed to a cocktail book published in 1935, were: “Pour one jigger of absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these
• According to biographer J Ehrman, William Pitt the Younger drank a
bottle of Port a day from the age of 14, reputedly as a cure for gout.
• Wine spritzers are very popular in Hungary, where dozens of named variations on the theme exist, including Macifröccs or Teddy Bear Spritzer
(made with red wine, soda and raspberry syrup) and Újházy fröcss (made with wine and pickle juice).
• Straw wine, or raisin wine, made from dried grapes, is a style that exists
in various forms in several major wine-producing countries, notably Italy, France and Spain. But there are wineries in the Dominican Republic and Denmark that have their own interpretations of the technique.
© Neil Crick
Celebrating first decade with move
The Dorset Wine Company has moved to bigger premises in the middle of the Queen Mother Square in Poundbury, near Dorchester, a location described by owner Jonathan Charles as “a fabulous spot”.
The new premises, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, is twice the size of the previous shop, meaning Charles has been able to bring all his storage in-house and make room for tasting events and onpremise sales.
The company has a retail unit at Strathmore House, a development dominating “one of the finest new squares to be built in Britain for a generation”, according to the property agents.
The building, designed by classical architects Quinlan & Francis Terry, incorporates eight luxury apartments and two retail units – one occupied by the Dorset Wine Company and the other by Waitrose.
“We can fit up to 40 people inside the shop now, which is great, because it was more like four before,” Charles says.
It is still early days for the relocated business but cheese and charcuterie may be on offer in the future. For now the mobile pizza van is an attraction for hungry customers though the proposed outdoor seating area probably won’t be ready until next summer.
Charles and his team are also celebrating their 10th anniversary with a drinks event for locals and loyal customers.
“It’s slightly belated, but we literally moved during our anniversary week so we decided to wait and settle in and get the shop looking exactly as we wanted it,” he says.
Poundbury will have 4,500 residents when completed in 2025.
Jonathan Charles (right) with sales assistant Elliot Knott
Park+Bridge pops in and pops back
Park+Bridge owner Paola Tich says she is unlikely to open a new shop in Ealing despite running a successful pop-up in the area.
The company was offered a temporary shop in the centre of Ealing by the local Business Improvement District initiative, and took the opportunity to promote its shop and Vindinista bar in nearby Acton,
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 4
which is part of the same London borough. “We selected a handful of wines
between £9 and £15 that showcased our proposition, along with some Le Grappin Bagnums and Vinnaturo organic boxed wines,” says Tich.
“We organised a couple of tastings with suppliers – one on Greek wines and one on rosés off the beaten track.”
But she adds: “While there are some great independent shops in Ealing, the rents are crazy and we’ve no immediate plans to invest in more bricks and mortar.”
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Otto Sanderson (left) and Gregor Donagh at the new Pitlochry store
More than just a Highland fling
Highland produce is available alongside “some of the best wines in the world” at Donaghy & Sanderson, a wine shop and deli that has recently opened in Pitlochry.
Boasting over 14 years of experience in the specialist drinks industry between them, Otto Sanderson and Gregor Donaghy identified an opportunity in the Scottish Highlands where they believe “access to great quality fine and everyday wines is in short supply”.
Sanderson says: “Our ethos is bringing that flair from the bigger cities and some of that continental thinking to our little patch of Scotland.
“Our mission is to make D&S a destination and not just a shop – a place where you can pop in and sample some superb drink paired with great local produce – a place where you can hang out for a while and just chat with the staff about wine, beer, cheese or whatever you feel like.”
The wines listed range from a small
selection of everyday drinking options priced from £6 to fine wines including Château Beaucastel Blanc, Abadia Retuerta, Sardon de Duero, Domaine de la Solitude, Cornelia Constanza, Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Clos Windsbuhl and Clos Jebsal.
“We worked very hard to find suppliers and partners to source wines which are ready to drink and offer great value for money regardless of the price,” says Sanderson.
“Harrison’s Fine Wines from Crieff has become like a wine angel to us and is always at hand for advice for any questions we have.”
The business directly imports its own organic wine – Le Clos de Caveau, from southern Rhône.
Sanderson adds: “Our big thing is education – we have set out to build a sustainable business model in a very rural location, and from past experience we felt that concentrating on the long-term goals of tasting events for locals and a wine school for consumers, e-commerce and a wine club would be the way to go.
“As Gregor always says, ‘the more you know, the more you enjoy it’.”
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 6
Duo hopes for organic growth
Last month saw the launch of the Organic Wine Club in Worcester Park, Surrey.
Owners Dimitri Safonov and Alexander Thomson-McLean will be selling only organic wine, including low-alcohol and sulphite-free options.
“I’ve been nursing the idea for quite a while,” says Safonov. “I don’t come from a wine background, but digital marketing and Alex from hospitality.”
Customers don’t have to be members of the wine club to purchase wine in-store, but promotional discounts, along with tastings and wine courses, are some of the membership advantages.
The emphasis is on smaller artisanal producers, sourced through Alliance, La Marchande and Les Caves de Pyrene.
• The Pip Stop, based in Lanchester near Durham, is on the hunt for a second branch a year after opening. The business says it is exploring possibilities in Durham and Newcastle.
Winesolution puts down Welsh roots
Four years after Hugh Elliot set up Winesolution inside a garden centre in Somerset, a second branch has opened in a similar location in Bridgend.
“We’re a proper wine shop but because we’re in a garden centre, the general public that wouldn’t go into a wine store come in to have a look,” Elliot says, “and once they come in, we chuck wine down their throats and they become wine shop customers.”
Winesolution Wales, based in Ewenny Garden Centre, is managed by Richard Hoppery. Local goods such as pies, eggs and honey, as well as Welsh wine and ciders, can be found among the extensive wine range.
“We’re the sole importers of Fuchs Wine Estate [in Floersheim-Dalsheim, Germany] and we do very well with that sort of thing,” Elliot says. “People are always told not to like sweet stuff and when they’re told by a wine person that it’s all right to like decent sweet stuff, they love us forever and we’ve got them forever.”
He adds: “In Somerset there is loads of competition and so [Bridgend] has been picked because there’s not a glut of good quality wine in that area.
“We’re planning on moving through the country in garden centres. I’m looking for areas that aren’t serviced by loads of independents.”
• Beaconsfield Wine Cellars is on the market after 19 years. Owner Neil Bingham says: “It’s had its good moments. I had a break clause in my 10-year lease and I decided to take it because the new rent would be a lot more. I don’t know what I’m going to do next – probably a lot of paperwork. And I’ll try and get fit. I might find somewhere I can work at Christmas because my knowledge might be useful to somebody.”
Hasty despatches from the frontline of wine retailing
You can always spot them the minute they walk through the door. Even on the busiest of
mutter under your breath as they leave. You know they’ll be scuttling back to Waitrose for their Prosecco deal next
Fridays, when everyone is stocking up for week.
You learn early on never to give away
They walk in gingerly with an
bottles of wine as prizes. It always has to
embarrassed, slightly creepy smile which be something that draws people to your
just screams “I’m after a raffle prize for
shop, in the hope that you convert the
our fete/fair/fundraiser/dog show!”
prize winner into a customer.
If they are regular customers, of course The trouble is, the more customers
you oblige with a voucher and a smile.
you have, the more requests you get. You
Usually, they are so grateful, they’ll buy
something way out of their usual price range and we both feel a bit better.
That feeling soon dissipates when you
No prizes for guessing my
discover they’re running a bar at their event, stocked with booze from the local cash and carry.
“Cheers for deciding I’m too expensive without even talking to me about it first!”
response to the once-a-year
you say to yourself, and are only slightly
consoled when more than one customer end up giving away a lot of vouchers in
whispers how awful the wine was at that July that then get redeemed in August,
the month when you could really do with
Sometimes they are complete strangers some hard cash (see also December and
who have no intention of ever supporting January).
you as a business. They’re easy to deal with. “We only support our customers’
In fact, this year, you’ve given away so many gift vouchers as raffle prizes, you
causes,” you say, smugly. (I like to save
wonder if you now qualify for charitable
screen grabs from the CCTV cameras of rate relief from the council.
all the miffed faces. Is that legal?)
But the most odious of prize
hustlers is the occasional customer.
They’ll come in a couple of times
before making their bold request,
like a shark circling its prey. They’ll
buy the second cheapest bottle they can find. They don’t want to look too
mean. They’ll ask you how’s business,
like they could give a monkey’s.
Then, on the third visit, they go in
for the kill. You feel helpless as they
pounce. A free gift voucher is duly
produced. “See you next year!” you
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 7
© pathdoc – stock.adobe.com
tried & Tested
Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo 2015
This producer started out in the 1980s with the aim of “safeguarding local traditions”, which might be a reckless cause in some parts of the wine world but not in Campania. The fruit and minerality of this 100% Greco go head to head here and end up in a loving lemon-and-melons embrace. RRP: £19.99 ABV: 12.5% Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines (01582 722538) hdnwines.co.uk
Kloster Ebernach Experimental Orange Riesling 2014
Anyone looking for an antidote to precise, linear Mosel Riesling will find it in this example from Aussie winemaker Martin Cooper. Unfiltered, and made with native yeasts and almost no sulphur, it’s a real wild child: murky, grainy, spicy and gloriously rough-edged and earthy. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but terrific fun. RRP: £29.99 ABV: 11.5% Red Squirrel Wine (020 3490 1210) redsquirrelwine.agency
Idaia Gi Vilana 2015
The Vilana grape is indigenous to Crete’s Dafnes region and, in the right hands, is capable of producing complex, aromatic wines. This one, produced by a family-run winery with grapes grown up to 500m above sea level, is a delight, with a pleasantly disorientating muskiness and exotic fruit on the palate. A wine that shouldn’t really be drunk indoors. RRP: £12.49 ABV: 13% Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines (01582 722538) hdnwines.co.uk
Pikes Los Companeros Shiraz/Tempranillo 2013
The spice comes courtesy of the Shiraz and the Tempranillo contributes “rustic tannins” to this luscious Clare Valley blend from a consistently impressive producer. Actually the wine is beautifully smooth, with a dark fruit sweetness and a faint tang of cranberry lurking in the mix. RRP: £12.50 ABV: 14.5% Seckford Agencies (01206 231188) seckfordagencies.co.uk
Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés Pinot Blanc 2014
This is Schlumberger’s best-selling wine and its
calling card, and for good reason. Matured for seven months on fine lees, its citrus fruit, floral notes and
spicy, gingery flavours dance together in the glass, and there’s a minty-fresh bite to the finish.
Maisons Marques et Domaines (0208 812 3380)
Austin Hope Troublemaker Red Blend
This eminently swiggable NV wine from California’s
Central Coast is dominated by Syrah, with 16%
Grenache, 8% Zinfandel and a splash of Petite Sirah
and Mourvedre for good measure. It’s got that Syrah
Play-Doh sweetness and a soft, vanilla-tinged spiciness.
All in all a gigantic, if slightly uncool, comfort blanket.
Awin Barratt Siegel (0161 908 1315)
Domaine Anderson Chardonnay 2014
Roederer invested in this foggy corner of Mendocino
County in the 1980s because it saw the potential for
Pinot and Chardonnay. This sleek, nectarine-tinged beauty justifies that faith. It’s proudly Californian, with a leesy creaminess, but with a fresh acidity on the finish that holds things together perfectly. RRP: £36.99 ABV: 12.8%
Maisons Marques et Domaines (020 8812 3380)
González Byass La Copa Vermouth
Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez are infused with all
manner of botanicals to create a rich, luxurious aperitif
that ought to do for Pimm’s what VHS did to Betamax.
Best enjoyed with ice and sliced orange, it’s a spicy,
clove-scented glass of bleeding loveliness with amazing depth and the gentlest bitterness on the finish.
González Byass UK (01707 274790)
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 8
bits & BOBs
Favourite wine on my list I’m genuinely passionate about all the wines we stock in the Harrods Wine Rooms, from the Juan Gil 4 Meses Monastrell to the 1959 TBA Scharzhofberger from Egon Muller and everything in between. However I do find myself increasingly drinking Spanish wines at the moment, one of which is the delicious Carravalseca Rioja Crianza from Casa Primicia in Rioja Alavesa that seems to always have a space in my rack
Favourite wine and food match It’s a little out of left field but ever since a memorable lunch at Hakkasan last year,
I’m obsessed with pairing spicy Asian dishes with Brunello di Montalcino, particularly if it’s reaching its secondary
stage of maturity.
Favourite wine trip I’m a sucker for dramatic landscapes so Piedmont is always a joy to visit, as is the aptly named Hemel en Aarde (Heaven on Earth) valley in South Africa. However
I just love visiting Napa and Sonoma, and seeing the views from the mountain vineyards whilst tasting great wines just makes the world seem a brighter place.
Favourite wine shop South Downs Cellars in Lindfield. My wife and I have just moved into the area and having a top quality wine shop on
our doorstep is certainly a bonus.
CRAV axe men storm winery
A masked gang of militants has attacked one of southern France’s biggest wine companies, smashing windows and setting fire to offices in protest at cheap wine imports.
Thirty people claiming allegiance to the CRAV protest movement targeted Sudvin, a subsidiary of co-operative producer Vinadeis, in Maureilhan near Béziers.
Balaclava-clad raiders wielding crowbars and what appeared to be makeshift axes stormed the offices. The tanks were also targeted, but were found to be empty.
CRAV has existed for more than 50 years and has intermittently used violence to pursue its goals. Decanter, July 21
Tesco wine bar to promote Finest
Tesco is opening a pop-up wine bar in London this August showcasing its 70-strong Finest range.
The Wardour Street shop will be staffed by experts including Master of Wine James Davis.
The pop-up will be free to enter and will not take bookings throughout its 11-day run. Big Hospitality, July 20
£10m investment in Gusbourne
Gusbourne has launched a bond issue to raise up to £10m to invest in its Kent and Sussex operations.
Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, who owns nearly two-thirds of the company, will take up at least the same proportion of the bonds.
Gusbourne has said it will put the funds towards new vineyards, additional plant and equipment, and working capital to increase its sparkling wine stocks. City AM, July 20
By the time you read this, it’ll be gone
• The Wine Society is to close its Montreuil Wine Shop in France, 45 minutes from Calais.
Chief executive Robin McMillan denied the closure was a response to the Brexit vote, but added that the uncertainties following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU justified the decision. The Drinks Business, July 15
email@example.com Twitter: @WineMerchantMag
The Wine Merchant is mailed freely to the owners of the UK’s 804 specialist independent wine shops. Except one, and that’s deliberate. The magazine is edited by Graham Holter. Printed in Sussex by East Print. Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82 © Graham Holter Ltd 2016
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 10
merchant profile: FAREHAM WINE CELLAR
It’s good to talk
Fareham Wine Cellar started out a quarter of a century ago, long before independents started bolting on the kinds of shiny extras that many retailers believe are essential for their survival. Even shelf talkers and neck-collars are eschewed: Roy Gillingham and Dominic Lockyer want a personal
conversation with those who venture into their jam-packed wine emporium
At a time when a template is beginning to emerge for a new breed of independent wine shop (huge windows, outdoor seating, wine dispensers, charcuterie, craft beer and
Lockyer insists that “the idea is that people come in and talk to us”. On closer inspection, you’ll find that not that many of the wines
are even priced. “One of the things I’m a bit lax on is putting prices
chalkboard slogans) it can be jarring to encounter shops that have on the bottles, but I do have a blitz every now and again,” Lockyer
no truck with any of these things.
admits. “But I find myself working more and more on the website
Such stores are by no means rare, but they are sometimes
dismissed as relics. It’s an outmoded business model, conventional Yes, Fareham does have a website, and quite a successful
wine retailing wisdom insists. Yet many of these provincial
one too, accounting for almost 40% of a turnover figure that
outposts confound the metropolitan logic by continuing to thrive. Gillingham isn’t going to disclose – perhaps because he doesn’t
Fareham Wine Cellar, celebrating its 25th anniversary this
seem the type to obsess over such trivia. “I don’t know if that
year, is an excellent case study. It occupies a cramped mediaeval
means we’re a busy website or a quiet shop,” laughs Lockyer.
building at the quiet end of a quiet Hampshire town, on a road
“Probably a bit of both.”
where residents block nearby parking spaces for days at a time. Walk into the store and your first instinct is simply to avoid
knocking anything over: the narrow walkways are defined by towers of wine boxes and teetering bottles. If you want to find
Lockyer joined the team in 1992, during his gap year, and has since become the face of the retail business, while Gillingham focuses on wholesale. The other member of the team, Daria Kenefeck, is a wine educator who has been with the business for
the Rhône section, or browse the Australian reds, it’s basically a
about 13 years. Gillingham is grateful for the continuity. “I’ve never
question of shuffling along until you stumble upon a helpful bottle been in a position where people come and go all the time,” he says.
label. Signage is a luxury that owner Roy Gillingham, and manager “I don’t know how you deal with that.”
Dominic Lockyer, seem happy enough to do without. Equally, don’t expect to find shelf talkers or neck collars on any
Does he get frustrated by the size of the shop? He admits things can “get a bit hairy” at Christmas but adds: “I’ve been offered other
of the bottles. Gillingham describes such fripperies as a “pet hate”; premises but the building suits what we do. One thing we hear
If you can get an internet customer to where they
from everyone who comes in here is ‘oh, it’s like an Aladdin’s cave’. If I had a fiver for every time I’ve heard that, I’d be able to retire.
“Despite the size of the shop, we do have customers
want to be in two clicks,
who come in and buy four cases of good Bordeaux in one go. There’s not many shops where you could
they’ll probably buy
actually go and do that. “We always really try to keep as much stock as we
can ready to go … and it’s quite a lot.”
THE WINE MERCHANT AUGUST 2016 12
Roy Gillingham (left) and Dominic Lockyer, July 2016
How did Fareham Wine Cellar get established? Roy: I started the business in 1991. I’d worked for another company for a short period of time but it went bust. I then worked for Unwins for a little while, in Midhurst.
It didn’t take me long to realise, through the pricing, that it was rather expensive. I decided to do my own thing and eventually – like everyone, probably – started in the garage. Eventually the garage wasn’t big enough and I was offered this place, probably in 1990, and I turned it down.
Someone else bought it and I supplied them. They were failing miserably, so I was asked again and by that time I really needed a place. This was initially bought purely as a storage area, rather than using the garage at home. At that time, it was just the downstairs, and upstairs was a flat that was let out. Now it’s our offices.
Basically we were wholesalers before we were retailers. It was one of our customers who worked for IBM, I think, and he persuaded us to go on the internet and we designed a website – which we still have, and we’re waiting to update it. But it worked from day one, and now retail-wise it’s probably 30%-40% of our retail sales.
What kinds of wines were you selling at that time? Roy: Firstly you don’t compete with Jacob’s Creek and Villa Maria, because they’re all available from the supermarkets, so we looked at things people would have maybe in a restaurant that weren’t available in a supermarket and people would start to search for.
We realised that the quality wine market was also an opportunity – there’s no competition around here. Where else are you going to go in Fareham to get decent wine? So it was a mixture of those two things and when we got on to the internet, we started to analyse what people were looking to do.
The critical thing was getting to where the customer wanted to be in two clicks. If you can get them to what they’re looking for that fast, they’ll probably buy. Once you have a customer and they’re satisfied, then you have a customer: that could be someone in Glasgow, or Manchester … it doesn’t matter.
How have you managed to build up your online sales? Roy: Customer service – Dominic does a good blog. You’ve got to keep putting yourself in front of people.
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merchant profile: FAREHAM WINE CELLAR
From page 13
they don’t have premises, that sort of thing, and they don’t have
such high overheads.
Dominic: By the time you publish this article we should have a new Roy: Despite the success of the internet sales, people still want
website in place. We’ve got a very dated website – but it works. Our new one will have so much more functionality, filtering down
to come in and touchy, feely, looky buy. People who will see us on the internet and still come in and see us – not have the wines
to the products you want.
Social media-wise it will be so much easier for me to share links. Likewise we have customers who occasionally ask for their
There will be a facility on there where customers will be able to
wine to be delivered. Some of those internet-only companies, you
leave reviews of wines – which will be moderated, of course.
look at the website and there’s only an email address, no phone
We certainly couldn’t have the shop without the website, and
number, no nothing. At least here, we’re real people, a bricks-and-
How are people arriving at the website? Dominic: 70% of new customers are coming through Google and the rest through Bing. Hopefully with the new website we’ll be a lot more SEO-optimised – the old one isn’t. There’s a few things we’ve done on it that will bring us further up the ratings.
When people want to spend money, they are more likely to spend it on the Old World than upmarket New World
The margins online are the same as for the
shop, but there are some people out there now
mortar place, so there’s that security for the purchaser.
who are doing much smaller margins. They are internet-only –
Dominic: It’s surprising how many people in the area don’t know we’re here but find us on the internet. It turns out they’ve lived in
Fareham for 20 years or whatever, and that’s always a source of
surprise. So the website works for that too.
Do you bring in your own wine? Roy: Most of our wine is imported. Most of our Bordeaux we bought [directly], even en primeur, or through negociants. We’ve got a big tasting coming up in October and quite a few of them will be coming over.
Bordeaux is fairly important to us – 15 years ago Australia would have been the biggest seller by light years because that’s where all the interest was.
We were very big very early with Aussie wines; we had a relationship with Caxton Tower. I remember the first wine fair I went to, I tried a wine called Stoneleigh Vineyard – fantastic! Marvellous Kiwi Sauvignon. I told my boss at the time and said “go and taste that, I could sell lots of that”.
He went over, came back and said “it’s really good but it’s New Zealand and it will all be over in six months”.
The timber-framed building dates back to the 1500s
How do you source new wines? Roy: I go to trade fairs, I go abroad, I’ve been to Vinexpo – not recently, but I try to get out and do a few buying trips every so often.
I’ve been to the Douro recently to get some cracking wines.
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Most wine on sale at Fareham is imported, much of it sourced from trade fairs
Seven miles from the Portuguese border, trying to get wines from there through Hillebrand: it’s not on their map. We had to use the local transport company, unfortunately – that wasn’t a terribly good relationship to start with.
Quality always excites me no matter where it’s from. Then you’ve got to sell it – that’s the hard bit.
Do you have an inkling what the next big thing is? Is South Africa still on its upward curve? Roy: I don’t think there’s any one big thing at the moment. What has changed is a better appreciation for the Old World wines and that comes through with quality – when people want to spend money, they are more likely to spend it on the Old World than perhaps the upmarket New World wines. Having said that, Chile and Argentina: the quality of their wines over the last few years is four times the quality of what it was, for the money.
I think international winemakers and international business people like Miguel Torres have got to take some credit for that – getting the right things planted in the right place.
How are you with Aussie wines? Have they fallen off a cliff? Roy: Pretty much, but having said that … we’ve got quite a large collection. Certainly they don’t turn over as fast as they used to
and there is a bit of Aussie fatigue about. If you look at the stats they sell like crazy in the supermarkets – but that’s all at the bottom end.
What’s your average bottle price at the till? Dominic: We don’t really have anything under £10. We haven’t worked it out scientifically but I think it’s about £12-£15. It gets skewed because we sell a lot of vintage Armagnacs and Ports, sometimes £200 a bottle. Roy: Because we wholesale wines there’s a lot of inexpensive wines going out to restaurants and hotels.
We don’t currently have an EPoS system where I can monitor everything that’s going through the shop – it just goes through the business in its entirety.
Is the wholesale side totally separate from the retail range? Roy: No. I’m quite open about our website, so I always tell customers if they want information for the wine, they look on the website. Our price is the price: our mark-up is nothing like 35%.
For an internet customer, there is a delivery charge but we never lost the fact that we are a shop and we would like people to
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