what we do
We are an English (very) Independent Wine Merchant. We specialise in importing Italian wines.
No minimum purchase; just really honest, carefully selected, sustainably farmed - and always, always delicious - good wine.
We buy wine directly from the farm/cellar, mostly from small artisan producers, which, in turn we deliver wine directly to your door, simply for you to enjoy a glass of well-made, lovely wine at home.
If the choice feels daunting, we are more than happy to help with wine recommendations for you and/or your business / office.
Whether you want wine for celebrating, a wedding gift list, enhancing a fine dining experience, or you are giving someone that extra thoughtful, special gift; or you want to hold a wine tasting for entertainment, fund-raising or simply in order to learn more about italian wine; we can provide you with just the right wine and service that you have been looking for.
You can buy your wine online from us, over the phone or by email - or visit us at our warehouse. You will receive professional, friendly service and reliable nationwide wine delivery.
We have run our own unique wine club since 2015, please do contact us if you are interested in further details.
We started trading in 1994, a classic kitchen table and van operation that started as a very simple operation in Uppingham, Rutland. The operation has now travelled all the way to ……. the outskirts of Oakham, also in Rutland, the smallest county in England! This is not quite as small a move as it sounds: we weren’t in Uppingham for long before we had upped sticks and moved to Knightley, Staffordshire, where we remained until 2003.
We have always been a pared down business, as all the frills are found in the stock. At first, we aimed to sell cricket bats as well as a range of wines. The cricket side has been and gone, wine remains a passion, but a much more focused one.
We caught the Italian bug thanks to a chance meeting with a Benedictine monk at a kissing gate! He introduced us to the late Felicita Pask-Hughes, a charming Italian lady who came to Britain after the war. She had a remarkable eye for quality and was fearless in the wines she imported. In a time of straw-wrapped bottles of Chianti, she was importing Isole e Olena and Sassicaia. In 1998 Ben was told (by Felicita) that we must buy her business because she was (then) 82. We did and the die was cast.
Felicita’s influence on us, boosted by six months wine travel round Italy in 2003, means that our emphasis is mostly, but not completely, on italian wine. We also ship directly from Matthieu Faniel, a small grower-producer in Champagne, and we carry a small selection of artisan gins and other spirits.
Whether from Italy or anywhere else, however, we have developed a taste for wines made by men and women who cherish the history and traditions of their hills and valleys. Such individuals make wines with a sense of place and unique character. We aspire to follow our mentor’s lead and we do not buy wines for our customers – we find customers for our wines. We try to be serious when buying, but are never too serious when you are buying from us!
who we are
Ben was declared the first ever winner of the “Online Wine Buyer Award” at the 2020 inaugural London Wine Fair 'Wine Buyer Awards'. Ben has always worked in the wine trade, though he still harbors an ambition to be a demolition expert. He buys the wine and sells it, designs and writes the literature. He has been a DWWA (Decanter World Wine Awards) judge since 2015. He dreams of still playing cricket and has instead taking up L'Eroica-style cycling on his vintage bike.
Emma has a background in administration and warehouse management, she makes sure things happen and builds us systems that work. She claims to have a ‘Barbie’ palate and only a little product knowledge, a useful scam to avoid having to write tasting notes (she enjoys drinking wine far more than tasting it!). She is by far the better Italian speaker and even manages to communicate with HMRC.
Our thanks are always with you, and all our customers. Please keep talking to us, buying from us and coming back for more!
Thanks also to our extremely patient parents, especially memories of Malcolm in his role as part-time warehouseman, John for a reliable flow of sound advice, some of which we have had the sense to take, and Ten, for a life-time of covering the more familial duties so often neglected by the pair of us.
For their care and hours of hard labour, we thank Gill Smith and Matt Gregory for such longstanding, unswerving loyalty and support.
Thanks to Andrew Castell for our first 20 years of relentless and most excellent proof reading.
Most of all thanks to Polly and Rosie, as without them it may have just been a business.