Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine merge to create Graft

The newly-formed Graft Wine Company, created from the merger of Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine, is keen to give more focus to independent wine shops outside of the London area.

Speaking to DRN, David Knott, the founder of The Knotted Vine, said The Graft Wine Company (which will be known as Graft), will now have dedicated sales staff for areas outside of London, in addition to a London team.

The two specialist importers announced the merger will give a combined portfolio of nearly 400 wines from 86 producers.

The newly-formed company, which will be headed up by Knott and Nik Darlington, founder of Red Squirrel, will also be taking on a number of new producers, including: Matthew van Heerden (South Africa); Polperro (Australia), Bodegas Nekeas (Spain), Andreas Gsellmann (Austria), Domaine du Vieux Pressoir (France), Corvers-Kauter (Germany), and Vigneti Cenci (Franciacorta, Italy).

Knott said: “The merger will improve our overall logistics and reach, particularly outside of London. We will now have a bigger sales team, which allows us to have more focus in the areas outside of London for both the off and on-trade. We will have a dedicated sales team of three for outside of London and three for within.

“The positioning for Graft is to help people find those wines that are a bit new and fresh on the shelf. We want to make it appealing and affordable. The wines will be accessible in terms of pricing; nothing too crazy.

“We are still small and so we want to have wines that you won’t find in wider distribution. Hopefully all of that will resonate with independent wine merchants who are looking for new things, and that is how we think we can help, along with a quality focus.”

Like Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine, Graft aims to work with key independent wine merchants, as well as the premium on-trade.

The two companies (Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine) were formed within six weeks of each other (seven years ago), and both set out as small players in an industry dominated by the biggest. 

Darlington said: "I am very grateful that the current marketplace and media seem to reward and praise the smallest importers far more than seven years ago - fundamentally a good thing.

"We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. The Graft Wine Company is only going to be a slightly bigger player than Red Squirrel and Knotted Vine were; but David, the whole team and I know it will give us that little bit more scope better to represent our winegrowers, better to utilise everyone's skills, and better to get out and serve our customers."

Red Squirrel will continue as an online retail brand but all trade-facing activity will go through Graft. The Red Squirrel retail website will continue to operate as it does now, purely an outlet for consumers to purchase wines that are largely only available in restaurants.

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