Thank you all for supporting us / Expanding our range!
Our huge debt of gratitude to you…
We wanted to take a moment to breathe and just tell you how indebted we are to all of our customers and supporters, whether you’ve been there since the start or have just used us once.
We opened the doors at the worst possible time for the hospitality industry, and we are hearing so many stories of pain from our friends in wine shops, bars and restaurants around the country.
The moment the lockdown hit, our entire business model got ripped to shreds. Our plan was to fund our crazy winemaking ideas by selling a few of our favourite wines in our tasting room, by hosting dinners and wine tasting evenings and through educating people through Jamie’s Wine Courses. And, of course, half of our wine was going to be sold to pubs and restaurants. Overnight, all of that disappeared, leaving a chasm. Our online wine sales were a tiny, minuscule fraction of what we had planned to do.
We are incredibly grateful to Dacorum and the government for very quickly helping us out with a small grant to keep our heads above the water – this arrived at the exact time we needed it the most.
But, much more importantly, we have to thank each and every one of you who has bought wine from us to help you all get through this horrific period. Thanks also to those who we have met through our Online Wine Tasting Club. We’ve had an incredible amount of fun and are delighted that so many of you seem to have done too, especially the private parties that we’ve organised for groups of friends and families.
Without you, we would, frankly, be bankrupt already. We owe our local community hugely and we hope to repay that in years to come. Thank you all, so much, from the bottom of our hearts. We hope you are all staying as well as any of us can in these crazy times.
On our small range
A boring practical note, but one of any new companies’ biggest challenges is managing cash. If we tried to bring in a few cases of every single wine that a customer might conceivably ask for, the number of different wines you have rapidly spirals out of control!
Our shop is tiny as well. We're not a warehouse – as anybody who has visited us can confirm – and that limited space is split further between the shop, lab and winemaking areas!
You can try this as a fun exercise… think of any country that makes wine, the different price points, the different regions, the different grapes… start writing them down in a spreadsheet and see how many you end up with! It's really hard not to end up with hundreds of different wines if you are trying to tick off all the boxes!
As a new business, we’d have to pay for most of that up front, holding up huge amounts of cash in stock.
It’s a huge challenge for any business, so we decided to use our key advantage: Jamie’s ridiculous experience of wines and the fact that people were going to be buying from him directly. We’ve tasted each of our wines that we sell and, simply, don’t offer it if we don’t like it and think it will appeal to you! This let us have a smaller, more interesting range.
We think that looking at a smaller, more carefully-selected offering makes things less confusing than looking at hundreds and hundreds of wines that you haven’t tried and you don’t know. Where do you start?
By having the shop to sell in, Jamie could point you towards a wine that might offer better value or better quality based on what you already like. Big fan of Pinot Grigio? Why not try this Albarino? Like your Aussie Shiraz? How about a Durif? Like your Champagne, but interested in something a bit different? How about the locally-produced Daws Hill Rosé or this Dopff Crémant d'Alsace.
For the few weeks our shop was open, it was exactly that personal approach which worked so well and it was the slightly more interesting, off-the-beaten-track wines which we were selling lots of! As the business grew, the plan was that we would then expand the range. Boy are we glad we took the safe route now...
Frustratingly, the wine industry’s tasting events were all timed for the period leading up to the lockdown, and many of them (including a huge one in Germany that Jamie was booked into) were canceled. This was sensible as I can’t imagine a worse way to spread the disease than thousands of people from all around the world, tasting and spitting their wine out in close proximity! Anyway, it didn't help our ability to source wine as that's where most of the deals are done.
Online wine sales is a different game altogether and people search for what they know, perfectly naturally... but this highlighted the gaps. It’s also been really challenging as several of our suppliers shut down operations completely, leaving us unable to even source our existing wines!
However, the time has come now where we can finally fill some of the gaps in our range. We’ve been organically adding a few favourites, as and when people ask for them, but have now added more wine cases and also are looking at ticking off more of the classics.
Jamie would like to introduce you to some of these, so I’m going to hand over to him now! Thanks again for all your support. Hope to see you at an Online Wine Tasting Club event soon!
Introducing our new range
When we opened, we had an array of the weird and wonderful, giving me the opportunity to hand sell, allow you to taste and explore new wines, but we were definitely aware we had some gaps. With us moving online I've started to add a few more classic wines & well-known regions. You'll see more and more of these popping up but here are a few of our favourites for now!
Domaine de la Soltitude Cotes du Rhone. An enticing nose of concentrated, ripe red berry fruits enhanced by subtle notes of black pepper and spice. Supple and rounded on the palate, supported by a delicate tannic structure, at £14.95
Domaine de l'Elite, Vielles Vignes, Chardonnay, Mâcon-Villages. An easy-drinking Mâcon, showing an aromatic and floral nose with citrus overtones. Creamy and textured on the full, but beautifully balanced palate, with refreshing notes of pear, peach and apricot on the palate through to a clean and rounded finish. £17.95
Ca'Rugate 'San Michele', Soave Classico. Elegant floral aromas combine with notes of fruit and a touch of peppery spice. Crisp and zesty on the palate, this elegant wine shows notes of sweet almond on the finish. £13.95
André Jacquart, Le Mesnil Grand Cru, Champagne, NV. Bright yellow green colour. Complex nose with lime blossom, brioche cinnamon and ginger. Full and silky palate with perfect minerality. Long and refreshing finish. £55
We now have a growing selection of mixed 6-pack cases on the website. No need to make decisions, whether its our Essential 6, great for everyday drinking with sparkling, pink white and red in the mix. Or why not explore a country with our Spanish 6 pack, Alternative Argentina or The Italian Job… The 6-packs also save you a few quid on buying the wines individually, so why not have a try and enjoy new wines!
The Mystery Box
For the really adventurous wine drinker… why not just leave it to me and pick The Mystery Box, choose from white, red or mixed and I will select some delicious and interesting wines for you to taste. Think of it as your personal Sommelier's Selection. Each box comes with tasting notes for each wine inside, and a mystery discount code for your next wine case purchase, anywhere from 5% - 20% off, but who knows how much will be in your box… it’s a mystery!
Free Local Delivery around Tring; we also can ship wine nationwide.
Order before 4pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday and you'll receive your wines that day (within a 10 mile radius), itherwise the order will get to you the next delivery day.
Live further away, or want to send wine to a friend or family member, we can ship anywhere on the UK mainland for a flat fee of £9.95 or it's free for orders over £150.
- Cheers, Jamie
The Online Wine Tasting Club
We've been delighted with how much fun our wine tastings have been and we're putting a lot of effort into this area.
We are working like crazy on a way to make this more scalable as we have so many groups who want to get involved and enjoy this brilliant opportunity to learn a bit more about wine, while discovering some delicious wines from grapes or areas they may not have considered before.
The big challenge is bottling it all up - it is seriously labour intensive and you can't take any shortcuts because of hygiene and it's also expensive. Shipping is another huge challenge, which is why we've had to limit the numbers and shipping area. The other big issue is how we want to rebottle as late as possible to avoid any damage to the wine.
Hopefully, within the next month or so, our solution will be ready to go – we have solutions to all three of these issues so will be able to ship to all your friends around the country and to make sure everybody gets a chance to join in these great events.
We also want to expand into quizzes, challenges and even a monthly subscription so you can look forward to a box of wine arriving regularly. Likewise, we will also be keeping it fresh by inviting winemakers or representatives of the winery to come join us.
Sadly both dates for our Australian wine tasting have been filled and we're not comfortable adding more just yet, but Jamie has added a really cool follow-on event, where we deep dive into McLaren Vale and one of the oldest and coolest producers of the region.
Then we're off to the land of the film Sideways to visit some of California's finest wines, before heading to South Africa to discover all about the reinvention that the local industry has been going through – at a torrid time for them after wildfires and draconian COVID-19 restrictions.
The Wines of D’Arenberg, Australia – Growing grapes in McLaren Vale since 1912 over four generations of family, D'Arenberg make wines in small, craft-like traditional ways, using only basket presses (like ours) and foot treading. With ancient vines that concentrate flavours and with an incredible eye for detail, this should be a great exploration of a top producer. 23rd May - £30
California Superstars – This super-premium tasting is of craft wines from California, such as Orin Swift Mannequin Chardonnay and Artemis from the legendary Stags Leap Wine Cellar. Find out how California beat the French at their own game. 30th May, 8pm – £40.
Wines of South Africa – discover one of the best value, beautiful, yet most historic wine areas of the world. Real creativity with far more than just Chenin Blanc and Pinotage. 5th June – £20
World Tour of Pinot Noir – explore how the most challenging and fickle of grapes can express itself in a stunning range of different ways, when grown in very different regions with evolving winemaking methods. South America, Oregon, Burgundy, Otago... Coming soon...
Anything you think we’re missing? Just let us know! We've had a few requests for a Riesling-fest so that's definitely on the radar.