When he is not fielding off calls from the national press bogged down in trying to understand Brexit red tape, Daniel Lambert is busy running his successful wine agency and distribution business. Over nearly the last 20 years he has built up a strong network of customers, particularly amongst independent wine merchants, who have been drawn to his work ethic of seeking out the kinds of producers and their wines that work so well on premium wine lists and for consumers looking for something new and exciting to drink. Richard Siddle talks to him about how he has pulled it all together.
For a wine producer getting your wines into the ultra competitive UK market has been one of the hardest challenges they face around the world. Such is the sophisticated and long standing network of wine agencies, distributors and wholesalers it’s hard to know where to start. The pressure on those agencies and importers has never been greater such has been the impact of Covid-19 and all the subsequent lockdowns, closure of the on-trade and the knock-on effects they have had. Jamie Wynne-Griffiths believes he has come up with a new distribution model that really puts the needs of wine producers first and is ideal for the uncertain times we are living in. His new Propeller business allows producers to ship, store and only sell their wine on consignment in the UK, with a model that gives them control over the relationships they build up with UK retail and on-trade customers.
While we await to see what the new US administration will do with tariffs, Scotch whisky is counting the cost with export sales massively hit. So what does it mean for Berry Bros, which has a sizeable international clientele? And how has the company been coping with that ‘other thing’? Peter Dean caught up with BBR’s reserve spirits manager, Doug McIvor, on the eve of its Spirits Winter Release which includes a one-off Chinese New Year special to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
Peter McAtamney might be based in Australia, but he’s got his finger on the pulse of the UK on-trade, particularly the fiercely competitive wine supply chain that supports it, thanks to the succession of reports he produces through his business Wine Business Solutions. Every year he also produces a league table of just how well wine distributors are doing in terms of their overall performance and competitive strategy. A table only those willing to pay for it can access. But here he shares his overall insights into just how well the wine distributor sector is doing, and reveals who is the number one importer in its just released UK Wine On-Premise 2021 report.
If this time last year we had started an article promising you the very latest on VI-1 forms then we probably would not have got many people past the first paragraph. Well, 12 months on and all the wine news is about Chief systems, EX1, and EAD forms, thanks largely to a Welsh-based wine importer, Daniel Lambert, who has been making national news on the trading complexities of Brexit. It’s been quite a few weeks for Lambert as he has been thrust into the public domain as the wine industry’s face and voice of dealing with Brexit. Richard Siddle managed to find a gap in his diary to hear first hand how he has coped being in the media spotlight…and importing wine from the EU.
China’s national drink has not gained the best international reputation. A clear liquor usually made from a Chinese grain called sorghum, many experience baijiu as a fiery shot thrust upon them at a business event. But there’s much more to the spirit than the bottom’s-up culture that’s gained such notoriety, says Qiqi Chen, managing director of UK-based baijiu importer Cheng International. She says we have a lot left to learn about this spirit, its diversity, and its place in Chinese culture and history.
So what have you got up to in lockdown? Started any new hobbies, learnt some new skills? Well Chuck Cramer, who by day heads up California’s Terlato Wines in the UK & Europe, has launched his own podcast series – On The Road, in partnership with The Buyer. Here he explains what it has been like, how he has attracted movie and rock stars to take part, as well as leading wine figures to talk about all things California and why he is particularly pleased this week to have spoken to Rex Pickett author of the iconic Sideways.
Running a trade association is very much about dealing with whatever that particular industry’s most pressing issues are there and then, but it should also, says the WSTA’s chief executive, Miles Beale, be about looking ahead to the big defining factors that will determine your industry’s future for the years and decades ahead. Which is why he is keen to put the drinks industry’s role in driving the environmental and green debate, alongside promoting diversity and inclusion in the sector, high on the agenda in 2021 and the coming years.
Back in 2009 when Pancho Campo held the first Wine Future event in Rioja the world was a very different place. For a start hardly any of it was reported on social media. Some 14 years later he feels the time is more than right to bring the event back in a bid to shine the light brightly on the key global issues facing the world wine industry, from the impact of Covid-19, climate change, viticulture, international tariffs, and how we collectively engage with a fast changing consumer. Here Campo explains what we can expect at Wine Future 2021 in February.
Coming up with a potentially breakthrough wine brand is hard enough, never mind launching two separate brands, side by side, into the wine market at the same time. But when you have a creative team behind them that includes a winemaking Master of Wine and an advertising executive that has dreamt up campaigns for some of the world’s most famous brands then they must stand more chance than others of making it. Richard Siddle caught up with Barry Dick MW and Nick Palmer to talk through their two very different new wine brands – Bowl Grabber and Vin Ventura.
Being chief executive of a trade association is a stressful and responsible position at the best of times, but when the industries you are looking after are going through not just one national emergency, but two at the same time – in Brexit and Covid-19 – then it’s a wonder Miles Beale continues to look so young and fresh faced as he does. Here in the first of two in-depth interviews Beale explains what the Brexit deal actually means for the drinks industry and what businesses need to continue to do to keep themselves trading, and how the WSTA and its members have responded to the Covid-19 crisis. He also explains what it has been like for a trade body to be able to continue lobbying government ministers in lockdown and how collaboration across the industry has been vital. Next week the focus falls on the other big issues the wine and spirits industry need to tackle, including its role in driving better sustainable practices, and the need for practical and deliverable solutions on diversity and inclusion.
The impact of Covid-19 has thrown the drinks and hospitality sectors together like never before. Although on the one hand it has been incredibly tough for so many businesses and individuals it has also been a year of inspiration and collaboration as people and companies have come together for the greater good. The launch of the new Trust Water brand is a perfect example of our times. The work of three former colleagues who have joined forces to use their drinks industry expertise to create a brand they hope can raise at least £500,000 for The Drinks Trust. Richard Siddle finds out how.
If you work in the drinks industry there is a fair chance you would have got a book related to wine or spirits somewhere in your Christmas stocking. It’s hardly a novel present. But when Mike Robinson was given a book on gins and home-made tonic recipes one Christmas it was to change his life. For up to then he had been quite happy working in supply chain and logistics for Heinz. Now he is looking to make his way into the drinks industry with his own range of Jeffrey’s handcrafted cordials and tonic syrups.
2020 is going to be remembered for an awful lot of wrong reasons, but whatever the last few months has thrown at us we’ve all had to cope, react and do what we could to help ourselves – and those around us. It’s also been a year like no other for innovation and getting things done. Which is what our end of year interviews with leading figures in the drinks and hospitality sectors are all about. Individuals who have all responded to Covid-19 for the greater good. Who better to start with than Ross Carter, who in his role as chief executive of the Drinks Trust has been at the heart of how as an industry we have all come together to help as many people as possible through this crisis.
If you could bottle the expertise, passion, humour and all round likeabililty of drinks consultant and broadcaster, Joe Wadsack, you really would have some special drink on your hands. Well with the introduction this year of the Reverend Hubert winter gin liqueur you have pretty much got the next best thing – a new drinks double act between brand creator, Thomas Lester, and the one and only Joe Wadsack. Here he explains who Reverend Hubert was and why this new winter gin liqueur recreation would make a great extra guest at your Christmas Day lunch and sit very nicely on your back bar in 2021.
The Drinks Trust is on course to have helped up to 5,000 extra people during 2020 who have fallen into serious difficulties because of the impact of Covid-19. The stark reality is that we are faced with months of yet more uncertainty, disruption, anxiety and job losses as businesses, and, in turn, their staff are hit by the continued fallout of the pandemic. It’s why the Drinks Trust has stepped up its efforts to offer as many people in the sector an even wider range of emotional, mental and physical support measures and services to help them as best they can, as Nicola Burston, the Trust’s operations and services manager, explains.
The pace at which the wine industry has had to respond to seismic change during 2020 and get online just to do business has been unprecedented. It has also stretched to breaking point many of the existing legacy management computer systems out there that aren’t flexible nor built for a digital era. Here Nick Martin, co-founder of Wine Owners, sets out what he sees as being the sector’s biggest technical challenges and how having a wine industry specific digital operating system running everything from your ordering, stock management, brokering through to e-commerce and other sales channels can be a real game changer.
“In the auction business we talk about the drivers for supply being death, debt, divorce,” so it’s not surprising for James Ritchie, head of wine and spirits auctions for Sotheby’s, to use that phrase when assessing the global auction market in 2020. But in this fascinating insight into what really goes on behind the scenes at the world’s famous auction house, Ritchie also shares who and where the biggest wine collectors are and how even Sotheby’s is having to break with traditions and go as digital and online as it can.
Covid-19 has tested the agility of many industries this year, none more so than hospitality. But through innovation and hard work hotel groups and restaurants have been experiencing a number of fillips, says Alan Montague-Dennis, director of prestige sales at Mentzendorff. Staycations, a new al fresco, fine dining at home and trading up on the wine list (when possible) have brought about some unexpected returns. In this insightful piece Alan explains how his role allows him to flex with changing needs and to stay nimble – literally – on his Brompton bike, a key part of the company’s approach to sustainability and mental wellbeing, and helping him keep a positive spin on things.
The fast changing wine market is putting even greater pressure on producers, importers and operators alike to find ever more cost effective and efficient ways of moving, listing and selling wine. Matthew Johnson and Alex Green have been at the forefront of the changes wine suppliers have made during their time at Copestick Murray and Freixenet Copestick, helping to source and create brands and exclusive wines for customers. They have now branched out on their own to set up their own business – Beyond Wines – which they believe has its own USP and, in doing so, can find its edge against steely competition.