Top 100 Most Influential People in Wine 2019

Welcome to our annual list of the most influential, authoritative and dynamic personalities that shape the UK wine trade.

1 Pierpaolo Petrassi MW

Head of BWS, Waitrose

Petrassi’s strong and stable leadership of the UK’s most experienced supermarket wine-buying team provides a welcome tonic to the churn seen at many multiple retailers. He moved to Waitrose in 2010 and has developed into the most influential figure in the wine trade over the past nine years. Petrassi has put together a talented buying team featuring Xenia Irwin MW, Nick Room, Alexandra Mawson, Becky Hull MW, Maria Elener, Victoria Mason and Daphne Teremetz, and they have compiled the most exciting range of any multiple grocer.

Waitrose has 360 stores across the UK and it significantly overtrades in wine due to the strength of its offering. It is able to convince affluent shoppers to trade up to interesting wines from around the world through the quality of its merchandising, its category management and its in-store wine advisors. This sets it up as a genuine rival to independent wine merchants across the country. It is also well placed to capitalise as Brits turn their backs on the on-trade amid economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit, while still wanting to enjoy affordable luxuries from the comfort of their own homes.

Yet Waitrose is also a destination for shoppers who want great value wines in the £6-£9 bracket as they can find some intriguing selections in its Blueprint range. It boasts an extremely strong range within Champagne and English sparkling wine, and Kantar data also suggests that it has grown its share of the bubbly market from 8.5% to 9% over the past year. It continues to push boundaries within the multiple retail channel and just this month it launched its first English orange wine, plus two canned English wines. It now stocks 54 organic wines from 18 countries, and it is experiencing 57% year-on-year growth in this area after selling an all-organic 12-bottle wine case for £123, featuring the likes of Bonterra’s organic Chardonnay from Mendocino, Tsantali’s organic Cabernet Sauvignon from Greece and Gabriel Meffre’s organic Côtes du Rhône red blend.

It is a team effort, but Petrassi must be given credit for creating an environment in which buyers are encouraged to take risks with drinks they believe in. Waitrose is not beholden to quarterly reports to the City, so Petrassi’s team is able to make bold, generational decisions that can genuinely shape the nation’s wine-drinking habits. It has stuck to its guns over the past year, resisting any pressure to engage in range rationalisation or supplier culls, and it continues to forge strong relationships with suppliers across the globe, particularly in the Old World. The retailer continues to seize awards for its wine offering, while the UK’s most respected wine writers pay a great deal of attention to what it does. Petrassi’s influence extends to the boards of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and the Masters of Wine Endowment Trust and he is a passionate advocate of responsible drinking.

2 Mike James

Wine buying director, Aldi

James is celebrating a decade in the Aldi wine buying team this year and has led the retailer on a remarkable journey. The German discounter has seized huge swathes of grocery market share from the traditional Big Four supermarkets and that is largely down to its wine offering. It offers a fantastic price-to-quality ratio, underpinned by impressive results in tasting competitions, and it has made a big deal of this in its marketing. That has helped drive the middle classes into Aldi stores and Nielsen data recently suggested that it has overtaken Morrisons to become the fourth-largest supermarket in the UK. Yet James is not resting on his laurels and he has just launched Aldi’s first still English wine, while bolstering the range from Portugal and sourcing all manner of gems from lesser-known regions in France. James is respected by many suppliers and producers and his skill as a buyer ensures Aldi punches well above its weight in the wine category. The team continues to grow, with Josh Heley and Andrew Clarke recently joining, and Aldi should remain a strong force in the wine trade for many years to come. 

3 Jason Godley

BWS director, Tesco

Godley recently took over as BWS director at the UK’s largest retailer and he is tasked with maintaining the team’s impressive recent performance. Tesco has just reported a 28% jump in profits as its turnaround plan nears completion and its wine department has delivered substantial value growth over the past year. Some suppliers may feel there is too much churn in supermarket buying teams to establish effective working relationships, but Tesco remains keen to maintain a revolving carousel of department heads. Rob Cooke headed up the wine team for less than two years after replacing Gavin Warburton, and now it is Godley’s turn. He has been at Tesco for 24 years and in that time he has been in charge of various categories, including crisps and frozen foods, while also heading up its Malaysian operations. He was most recently director for impulse and One Stop, but he is no stranger to BWS, having served as senior buying manager for beer from 2002-2004 and then wine category manager from 2004-2008. Tesco’s volume clout in the marketplace remains unrivalled and it will be intriguing to see how its wine offering develops under Godley’s stewardship.

4 Miles Beale

Chief executive, Wine & Spirit Trade Association

The spectre of Brexit looms large over the wine industry and Beale has consistently campaigned for a frictionless trade deal with the EU. He will need to redouble his lobbying efforts in the months ahead, as it is an extremely challenging time for the hundreds of businesses he represents in Westminster. The WSTA seeks to remove barriers to trade and facilitate market access, and rarely has its work been more vital. Beale was disappointed to see months of campaigning for a duty freeze end in failure as wine was singled out for a clobbering at the last Budget, while beer, cider and spirits were unaffected. Yet this is an annual battle and he will need the entire trade to get behind him as he bids to persuade the government to give wine a fair deal this year. It will be up to Beale and his team to demonstrate the economic benefits of a healthy UK wine industry and present these messages in a more assertive fashion. 

5 Paul Sorrentino

General manager Europe, E & J Gallo

Ask any big wine supplier which rival they most admire these days and the answer is typically Gallo. Barefoot has been on a tear since Sorrentino took over as UK general manager and it has firmly established itself as the most dynamic major brand on the market. It has enjoyed 19% value growth over the past year to overtake Echo Falls, Blossom Hill and McGuigan and surge up to number two in the chart of the UK’s bestsellers. It is fast catching up on market leader Hardys and it could soon rise to the summit. The Californian behemoth has another top 10 brand in Gallo Family Vineyards, while it continues to bolster its premium portfolio. It boasts all manner of iconic wineries from the Golden State, and it has recently begun selling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Provence rosé on our shores. But Barefoot is the star of the show and it has succeeded by making wine fun, accessible, flavourful, affordable and inclusive. Sorrentino sits on the WSTA board and he welcomed Boris Johnson to the Gallo offices last year as part of his lobbying efforts.

6 Mark Jarman

Head of wine operations, Morrisons

The supermarket chain’s rising credibility and commercial performance in wine has been a slow-burn affair since Jarman took on a leading wine role in the organisation six years ago. Morrisons was named multiple wine retailer of the year in our own Drinks Retailing Awards at the start of 2019 and has been shortlisted in the supermarket category of the International Wine Challenge in four years out of the past five, winning on two occasions. Jarman’s hands-on approach has resulted in makeovers for several sections of the wine range, such as changing around 80% of Morrisons’ South African portfolio to reflect the diversity of its wines. Jarman has more than 30 years’ experience in the drinks business, having worked in wine for Safeway, Somerfield and First Quench back in the day, before taking a detour to the supply side with Allied Domecq, Waverley TBS and Seckford Agencies, and taking the head of wine operations job at his current employer in 2013.

7 Simon Cairns

BWS category trading manager, Co-op

Cairns was a wine buyer for both Spar and Morrisons before moving to give the Co-op’s wine department a good shake-up in 2013. Cairns has been very much hands-on and in the industry eye since taking on the overall BWS role a year later, tailoring ranges to suit individual store locations and magnifying the chain’s reputation for a great balance between quality and price. The Co-op has long been the champion of Fairtrade wine in the UK retail market, a role it enhanced last year by pledging to convert more of its South African range to the ethical watermark. Glowing total wine sales have been exceeded by growth in mini-bottles, boxes and 50cl sizes as it exploits its convenience position to the full. The Co-op is currently enjoying a run of three successive victories in the national convenience chain section of the International Wine Challenge.

8 Simon Doyle

UK manager director, Concha y Toro

The Chilean producer has been steadily edging its way up the league table of off-trade wine sales for several years, with Doyle keeping a steady hand on the rudder throughout. The portfolio’s lead brand, Casillero del Diablo, is among the biggest sellers in UK supermarkets, while Cono Sur and the Argentinian brand Trivento both play powerful supporting roles. Doyle has chalked up 18 years with CyT, having joined the company from the Australian mega wine outfit Southcorp. He  has laid down ambitious plans to increase the number of UK households buying its wines by a million over three years, and has been a significant voice in the informal trade campaign to drive move value and margin into the business of producing, distributing and selling wine. Casillero commands the highest average price in the off-trade’s top 10 wine brands, with seemingly no hindrance to its growth figures.

9 Robin Copestick

Managing director, Freixenet Copestick

Last year’s acquisition of the Freixenet cava firm by Copestick Murray owner Henkel of Germany created the world’s largest supplier of sparkling wine. It led Copestick Murray to merge with Freixenet UK and create the UK’s largest fizz supplier, headed by Copestick and Damian Clarke. It added the Friexenet portfolio to a line-up that already included Mionetto, Follador and the phenomenally successful Prosecco branch of the I Heart brand – which at one point last year was posting annual sales increases of 80%, according to IRI. Even before Henkel came on board, Copestick was the driving force behind rapid growth for the company that he founded with Paul Murray back in 2005, but his increased clout in the wine aisles of the supermarkets and the acquisitions of online retailer Slurp and the French wines supplier Free Run Wines pushes him further up this year’s chart. Before striking out alone, Copestick worked for Spanish importer Moreno and McGuigan of Australia. He began his career selling Freixenet Cordon Negro and now his name stands proudly alongside it. Freixenet Copestick looks like a dynamic wine supplier with great potential for future growth.

10 Ade McKeon

UK general manager, Accolade Wines

The boss of the UK’s biggest wine supplier, with a portfolio that includes the big-hitters Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala, is still a relative newcomer to the distribution side of the nation’s wine industry. McKeon worked in spirits for Beam Global and beer for Cobra before taking the reins at the Asda BWS department in 2010, increasing both its market clout and profile at the time. He joined Accolade in early 2017, since when the company has come under increased pressure from rival brands, but it’s still fighting for space on the leading supermarkets’ shelves with innovative ideas. Echo Falls has broken out of its California box to enter the booming Italian fizz market with the inspired name Prosecho Falls, and Hardys, Kumala and the New Zealand brand Mud House have all appeared in 50cl bottles as Accolade looks to stretch consumer purchasing occasions of its leading brands.

11 Jancis Robinson MW

Writer, broadcaster

It’s perhaps lazy and unfair to cite Twitter stats as a measure of importance, but if we point out that Robert Parker – arguably the world’s most famous wine communicator – has just over 20,000 followers, then the 257,000 who hang on Robinson’s every word (or should that be 280 characters) give you an idea of just how much clout her views on wine can carry. Robinson is the editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine – the industry’s Encyclopedia Britannica or Bible, depending who you’re talking to – and has a weekly column in the Financial Times and another that is syndicated globally.

12 Michelle Brampton

European managing director, Treasury Wine Estates

Brampton took the top job at TWE’s operation in the UK last year. She’s already made her mark by laying out a strategy to achieve growth for TWE’s brands in a market where other major producers have arguably been enjoying a happier time recently looking at the sales graph on the office wall. Treasury has a big-hitting portfolio with the likes of Penfolds, Blossom Hill and Wolf Blass, and it has been innovating to reach a millennial audience in the form of the twin, tech-driven, his-and-her brands 19 Crimes and Embrazen. Brampton joined the Wine & Spirit Trade Association board last month.

13 Elizabeth Newman

BWS category manager, Sainsbury's

Newman’s recent focus at Sainsbury’s has been on beefing up its own-label wine offering, particularly with the premium Taste the Difference brand. Working with its team of in-house winemakers, the chain has introduced new TTD lines from Rhône and Bordeaux, and it has been going great guns on premium Italian reds. Fizz has also had a bit of TLC with sparkling wine buyer Louise Loveder adding pink Crémant de Loire and rethinking its TTD cava. Newman was handed the top BWS job at the supermarket chain four years ago, having previously occupied a number of non-drinks roles. She joined Sainsbury’s from the magazine publisher IPC Media.

14 Patrick McGrath MW

Managing director, Hatch Mansfield

Hatch Mansfield manages to pull off the neat trick of being one of the UK’s highest grossing branded wine suppliers while still operating in a distinctly premium environment. It’s one of the few importers with a significant presence in supermarkets that doesn’t get a routine cold shoulder from independent specialists, many of whom cite the consistent support they’ve had from the company over the years for their continued loyalty. Its performance may be down to stable management, with McGrath chalking up a quarter of a century in the top job this year. Italian family-owned producer Gaja joined the Hatch portfolio in 2018.

15 David Thatcher

Chief executive, Direct Wines

Laithwaite’s founder Tony Laithwaite published his autobiography earlier this year, recounting the journey from washing bottles at a Bordeaux winery to building the UK’s most successful, long-established, direct-to-consumer wine importer. The latest stage has seen it navigate steadily from mail order into the digital age, while opening a string of bricks-and-mortar shops that if/when Majestic goes will make it one of the UK’s biggest wine chains. Thatcher has his hand on today’s Direct Wines group, of which Laithwaite’s is the biggest chunk, bringing expertise from a slew of high-level jobs in TV and telecoms.

16 Troy Christensen

Chief executive, Enotria & Coe

How time flies. Christensen is probably still seen by many in the UK wine trade as the former boss of Accolade, but next month actually chalks up half a decade in the Enotria role. During that time it’s become an increasingly weighty presence in the industry and it has made several additions to its portfolio in the past year. Perhaps the most significant was a deal with San Pedro Tarapaca of Chile but it also signed up the Aussie producer Chaffey Bros and Kir-Yianni from Greece. Christensen himself became a trustee of wine trade charity The Benevolent, adding the role to another external post as a board member of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.  

17 Rowan Gormley

Chief executive, Majestic Wine

The stock market reacted with some alarm to the announcement in March that the Majestic brand and operation was being reeled in, to favour a digital-heavy presence under the Naked Wines name that Gormley brought to the group with the Naked acquisition of 2015. Trade enthusiasm for the news has been scant, with many commentators reacting with dismay to a retreat from a business model that has produced so much talent in the past. Gormley tumbles down this year’s list from a top-five place last year as the industry and Majestic employees wait to hear
more about the details of
his plans.   

18 Laura Jewell MW

UK director, Wine Australia

It’s been a busy time for Jewell in the past year as the generic body looks to ensure Australia retains its position as the UK’s favourite source for imported wine, with the off-trade alone selling over £1 billion worth of the stuff every year. Sales are on the up too, with initiatives such as the autumn Off the Vine tasting and the Australian Wine Discovered trade education platform helping to give the country a year-round profile beyond the huge annual generic tasting in London each January. Jewell was previously on the buying team at Tesco and has been an MW since 1997.

19 Jay Wright

Chief executive, Virgin Wines

The Virgin Wines boss was no doubt raising a glass last month, as Lincoln City FC, of which he’s been a director since 2017, secured a second promotion in three years to take them into the EFL League One. It wasn’t the first time Wright’s had reason to celebrate in recent years, as the wine business which he’s co-owned since an MBO from Direct Wines in 2013 has gone from strength to strength to become one of the UK’s best online wine retailers. Wright took over the Virgin reins in 2008 on the departure of Rowan Gormley to form Naked Wines and now sits just behind him in the Top 100.

20 Joe Fattorini

Broadcaster

The description “broadcaster” barely begins to cover Fattorini’s all-rounder status and considerable trade and consumer profile. Having previously worked for Bibendum and Matthew Clark, The Wine Show presenter known as Obi-Wine Kenobi last year signed up with the Fields Morris & Verdin division of Berry Bros & Rudd to be its new head of sales in London. He’s also a wine ambassador for Celebrity Cruises and once had a gig talking to golf fans in the US about his favourite subject as a consultant to the PGA Tour. Second favourite subject: Ironman triathlons, which keep him trim between all those trade functions.

21 David Gleave MW

Managing director, Liberty Wines

You’d think after 22 years that Liberty Wines and the man who founded it would have discovered just about everything there is that’s worth importing from Italy. But it’s still managing to unearth new gems from the country on which Gleave forged its reputation, with Mandrarossa from Sicily joining the portfolio in early 2019. That wasn’t the only new addition in the past 12 months as Liberty also added the Chinese producer Kanaan, Bodega Garzón from Uruguay and, most impressively, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne. Gleave founded Liberty after leaving what was then Enotria Wines and its latest accounts show turnover of just under £68 million.

22 Simon Lawson

General manager, Casella Family Brands

Casella’s Yellow Tail brand is flying in the mainstream off-trade, sending Lawson up 24 places since last year’s Most Influential run-down. The family-owned Australian brand has struck a chord among UK consumers with its accessible style and distinctive packaging, backed by a £2 million marketing campaign last year to get more people tasting its wines for the first time. It’s all very familiar territory for Lawson, who was previously managing director of Diageo’s Percy Fox wine operation in the era when it took Blossom Hill racing to the very top of the UK wine charts.  

23 Michael Saunders

Chief executive, Bibendum PLB

Saunders returned to Bibendum a year ago to help navigate the supplier through the choppy waters that had been whipped up by the stormy collapse of previous owner Conviviality. Under C&C Group’s ownership, the company seems to be gradually getting back on course, renewing its long-term reputation for good-quality wine and excellence in customer service. Saunders had been Bibendum’s boss from its more humble beginnings in 1982 until Conviviality took over in 2016. He crowned a momentous year in 2018 by being named chairman of trade charity The Benevolent as the new year began.

24 Drew Tiffin

BWS Category director, Asda

Asda has been busy building its entry-level and alcohol-free propositions respectively with the launches of The Wine List and Be Free ranges, but its year has been mostly spent in the shadow of the protracted proposed merger with Sainsbury’s. Of the two parties the deal’s demise at the hands of regulators last month feels like worse news for Asda’s wine department, whose offering is more vulnerable to discounter challenges. Tiffin returned to BWS in 2016, a department he had previously been involved in as the beer-buying manager from 2008 to 2011.

25 Steve Moody

Managing director, Fells

Fells strengthened its hand in the premium echelons of the UK wine market last year when Australian producer Yalumba bought a 10% stake in the business and transferred all its distribution into the company. Moody now forms a partnership with Simon Thorpe MW, former boss of Yalumba’s standalone Negociants UK operation, while the Aussie producer is part of a formidable triumvirate of Fells shareholders, completed by the Symington port family and Torres of Spain. Other agency firms must look on with admiration and a little envy at a portfolio that also includes famous names such as Guigal, Champagne Henriot, Barone Ricasoli and Bouchard Père & Fils.

26 Chris Ellis

Commercial director, Pernod Ricard UK

Ellis and the Pernod Ricard wine team have a long-standing focus on pushing the category in a more premium direction and they decided to cut back promotional activity this year. The spirits giant remains one of the UK’s largest and most important wine suppliers, but it is determined to promote long-term category health and sustainability, and that has seen it take a hit on volume sales. Brancott Estate is enjoying strong growth, but Jacob’s Creek has declined significantly as it focuses on higher-end styles that offer better supply chain margins, rather than trying to compete with rivals at the bottom end of the market. 

27 Steve Finlan

Chief executive, Wine Society

The shrinking role of bricks and mortar in wine retailing should, in theory, play into the hands of the members’ co-operative, which sells everything it sources at long distance, either online or through more traditional remote mechanisms such as order forms and postage stamps. But the society’s older customer base poses challenges to Finlan, who took on the role last year, as more glitzy, interactive e-commerce platforms reach out to the younger audience that will be the wine drinking mass of the future. Finlan joined from shoe retailer Clarks and has spent time with Marks & Spencer, Gap and Thomas Cook. 

28 Andy Sagar

Managing director, Kingsland

Sagar reveals a liking for a pint of Guinness on his company website profile but it’s in the wine category that his company is becoming an increasing off-trade force. Kingsland produces a string of own-labels for Tesco, Morrisons and Ocado and is rapidly expanding its portfolio of company-owned brands and agencies with Australia’s Vandenberg, Germany’s Schmitt Söhne and new pouches in its sheep-themed Shorn range joining in the past year. Investment in packaging capability will make Kingsland the biggest wine bottling business in the UK, according to the company. 

29 Ian Harris

Chief executive, Wine & Spirit Education Trust

Under Harris’ 17-year stewardship, the WSET has grown from being the UK’s premier wine education organisation to a global leader in industry qualifications, with more than 700 approved programme providers in 70 countries. WSET courses are delivered in 17 languages and can be taken everywhere from Malta to Myanmar and from Iceland to Indonesia. Since the body was founded in 1969, more than 500,000 people have completed one of its courses and it chalked up 13 consecutive years of growth double-digit growth in 2017/18.

30 Julian Dyer

Chief operating officer, Australian Vintage UK

It’s seven years since Dyer crossed the road from wine retail to the supply side to handle new business development at the UK arm of the producer behind the famous McGuigan brand. Having quickly been elevated to general manager for the UK and Europe, the former Sainsbury’s wine buyer was promoted to his current position last year, at the same time as Cameron Ferguson took on a similar role covering Australia and the US. Recent launches from the company include the Delight range of de-alcoholised wines that are being listed by Marks & Spencer.

31 Dennis Whiteley

Managing director, Boutinot

It’s 30 years since Boutinot began making wine for the first time. Since that first foray into France, it’s also set up its own or partnership winemaking ventures in Italy, South Africa and England. This approach sets it apart in the competitive world of UK wine distribution, which is dominated by big brands and classically-structured agency firms. The company has grown rapidly since Whiteley led a management buyout in 2013, its mix of wines at a range of price points helping it build relationships with supermarkets, independents and quality on-trade accounts.  

32 Paul Letheren

Joint chief executive, Off-Piste Wines

Off-Piste’s Most Wanted range may win the prize for the most appropriately named wine of the past few years. Demand for the brand with the cheeky MW logo has led to a string of NPD in the form of varietals from Australia, California and Italy, Prosecco, single-serve cans and other fizz. Buyers from Tesco, Sainsbury’s Marks & Spencer and the Co-op have all bought into the pan-globally-sourced brand. Letheren shares chief executive role with Ant Fairbank, with whom he founded Off-Piste in 2007 on the guiding principle that wine is fun”.

33 Tamara Roberts

Chief executive, Ridgeview Estate

The Sussex-based producer has been a major presence in the English wine market for many years and a growing force since Roberts took the top job at the family business five years ago. In addition to Ridgeview’s own wines, the producer’s winemaking team oversees English fizz production for the likes of Marks & Spencer, Laithwaite’s, The Wine Society and Waitrose. A £1.8 million winery upgrade will double its capacity to 500,000 bottles a year by 2023. Roberts, a former PwC auditor and Nat West analyst, is also on the board of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association. 

34 Ed Evans

Head of BWS, Spar

While other c-store fascia groups plough through the machinations of tie-ins to major retailer operators, Spar has been getting on with its own thing and reaping growing wine sales as a result. Evans brings big-player experience to the party from First Quench and travel retailer Nuance. The symbol group’s Regional Selection has recently been made available in all of its stores, establishing a three-tier hierarchy of good, best and better wines that aims to take convenience customers on an upwards journey of discovery in the category.

35 Tatiana Fokina

Chief executive, Hedonism Wine

There was no little scepticism when exiled Russian phone store magnate Yevgeny Chichvarkin announced in 2012 that he was creating the world’s best wine shop in the heart of London’s swanky Mayfair district. But, aided by the reported US$400 million sale of his Russian business, its mix of world-scouring buying and sumptuous attention to service and retail detail has pretty much delivered on the promise. Chichvarkin attributes its success in no small part to the drive of former St Petersburg art dealer Fokina, who has headed the Hedonism operation since its inception.

36 Mark Lansley

Chief executive, Broadland Wineries

The bulk shipment and private-label specialist has been gradually extending its reach in the branded arena with products such as Proudly Vegan. It joined a range that includes Three Mills and Minivino in 2018 and demonstrates that the company is tuned into the drinks trends of the future. Broadland invested £1 million in new winery equipment to keep up with increasing demand in late 2018 and kickstarted 2019 with the launch of the Live Kindly Drinks low and no-alcohol offshoot. Apart from a brief sidestep to become chairman during the short-lived tenure of Paul Schaafsma as boss, Lansley has been Broadland chief executive since 2006.

37 Olly Smith

Broadcaster

It must be close to the definition of having made it when you find yourself the subject of a question on the teatime TV quiz show The Chase. “Olly Smith is a TV expert on which subject?” a contestant was asked on a recent episode. Universal recognition is obviously a little way off as the contestant chose gardening” over wine and the third option of fashion, but Smith is certainly one of the highest-profile TV wine pundits around, with a regular spot on Saturday Kitchen. He also has a column in the Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine and is a presenter on Radio 2.  

38 Mark Roberts

Director of sales, Lanchester Wines

Lanchester recently outlined investment plans it claims will make its Greencroft bottling operation the UK’s largest by next year. But it’s the way Lanchester has grown recently that has been inspirational to the rest of the industry as much as the growth itself. A focus on renewable energy sources at its County Durham base means it is carbon-minus in environmental impact and its use of reusable flexi-tanks for bulk shipping – as in a new range for Adnams last year – reduces shipping and carbon costs.

39 Stephen Finch

Owner, Vagabond Wines

With much of high street wine retailing in retreat, Vagabond has emerged as one of the few with ambitious growth plans that have a realistic feel. Finch gained £3.5 million backing from private equity investor Imbiba last year as he looks to roll out the on/off hybrid format that has wowed central London to other parts of the UK, Europe and the US. The company has also started making English wines at the urban winery in its store in the shadow of Battersea Power Station, using grapes from vineyards in Kent, Surrey and Oxfordshire.

40 Lizzy Rudd

Executive chairman, Berry Bros & Rudd

Rudd took over the day-to-day running of the top-end London wine merchant at the start of the year after it decided to part company with chief executive Dan Jago. She became chairman at the end of 2017, replacing Simon Berry. That was an exciting time for the firm, soon after the opening of its 63 Pall Mall store, which brought a modern retail aesthetic to Berry Bros’ historic role in the fine wine arena. Rudd’s career in the family-run business began in the marketing team on the Cutty Sark whisky brand.

41 Victoria Anderson

Buyer, Booths

Anderson took the lead wine role at the “Waitrose of the north” five years ago after working as a buyer on the supply side of the industry with Armit Wines. A rebrand of the Booths own-label range has delivered increased sales and a steady stream of awards from international wine competitions. 

42 Andrew Bewes

Managing director, Hallgarten & Novum

Bewes has just completed his first decade in the managing director’s chair at Hallgarten after joining the company from Liberty Wines, where he was commercial director. His time at Hallgarten has seen it enhance its reputation as one of the leading players in the agency portfolio business in the UK.

43 Nik Darlington

Managing director, Red Squirrel Wine

Darlington’s company has acquired a reputation for revealing the forgotten and undiscovered corners of the wine world since he set it up in 2012. Like the animal that supplies its name, rarity is a defining characteristic and recent additions include obscure Turkish grape varieties and 200-year-old vines in Etna. Conquering the wine-on-tap arena is now high on the list of priorities.

44 Hugh Sturges

Managing director, Jeroboams

The west London wine shop chain has had a new lease of life since Sturges joined from Berry Bros & Rudd four years ago. Its stores have been transformed into a modern update on the traditional British wine merchant, showing that the right investment can put bricks-and-mortar retailing on an upward trajectory.

45 Tim Atkin MW

Wine writer

Atkin has a consumer profile from his time as a national newspaper wine columnist but his trade footprint has become just as important. His series of reports on the likes of Chile, Rioja and South Africa have become essential tools in helping buyers make sense of the wine scene in some of the key countries supplying the UK market.

46 Mark Kears

Les Grands Chais de France

In Calvet, Les Grands Chais de France has the biggest single French wine brand in the UK off-trade, though its fortunes have waned in recent times in the wake of strong competition from several New World rivals. Early 2019 focus is on a range for indies and the on-trade through its Famille Helfrich division.

47 Bertrand Steip

Managing director, Möet Hennessy UK

Steip has headed the UK operation of the company whose brands include the Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon and Krug Champagnes for the past two years, but his involvement with the Möet empire goes back to the 1990s. Möet brand sales have proved resilient in a Champagne market that is in decline in post-Prosecco times.

48 Kim Wilson

Managing director, North South Wines

Early 2018 saw Wilson take on the managing director role at the company she founded in 2014 with Joy Edmondson and Hamish Gillespie. Its wide-ranging portfolio includes wines from De Bortoli of Australia and Italy’s The Wine People, both of which have stakes in the North South business.

49 Jo Wehring

UK Market manager, Wines of South Africa

Exports of South African wine to the UK rose by 5% in 2018 to pass the £100 million mark, cementing the market’s position as the number one destination for its producers. Wehring has had her hand on South African wine’s tiller in the UK since 2007 when she jumped ship from the world of agency PR. 

50 Matthew Jukes

Wine writer

Jukes is best known for his column for the Daily Mail, but his industry influence is just as keenly felt in his self-published reports on Burgundy and Bordeaux’s en primeur markets and Piemonte. His 100 Best Australian Wines roadshow tours the UK and China and earned him the title Honorary Australian of the Year in 2012.

51 Fergal Tynan MW

Chief executive, Alliance Wine

Tynan is on record as naming Withnail & I as his favourite alcohol-featuring film, famous for its protagonists’ demand for the finest wines available to humanity”, a more measured approach to which might be a guiding light in Alliance buying policy. The company features high on the favoured supplier lists of many independent wine shops. 

52 Bernard Fontannaz

Managing director, Origin Wines

Fontannaz and his company are the market-leading suppliers of Fairtrade wine to the UK, both through own-label and branded projects such as Fairhills. The UK consumes 40% of the wine supplied by Origin and is its biggest single export market. Its Craft & Origin brand aims to break the mould for wine bottle design.

53 Jamie Goode

Wine writer

Goode is one of the few bloggers to graduate to the more formal description of wine writer, largely because he marries intelligent appreciation of the realities of life in the vineyard and the commercial world to appreciation of the contents of a glass. Lectures, judging and expert media appearances all feature on an award-studded CV.

54 Matthew Hennings

Managing director, Hennings Wines

his year marks the 25th anniversary of Matthew Hennings joining the family firm started by his grandfather, Charles, in 1960. It’s since become a major player in the market in its Sussex home, where it has four shops, and further afield through e-commerce. It is the biggest member of the Vindependents buying group.

55 Paul Beavis

UK managing director, Lanson

The Prosecco-led, non-Champagne fizz boom hasn’t been kind to Lanson’s off-trade sales, but the UK remains the producer’s biggest export market. Beavis has been heading the UK operation for the past 10 years, throughout which Wimbledon tennis fortnight – of which Lanson has been the official bubbly for many years – has been a key time for the brand’s marketing.

56 Hannah Tovey

Director, London Wine Fair

Last year’s exhibition was Tovey’s first in the London Wine Fair hot seat and she got off to a flying start. Visitor figures were 17% up on 2017 with new features such as the Innovation Zone scoring with the punters. Further new features for 2019 could see the fair continue its renaissance.

57 Anita Jackson

UK director, Wines of Chile

Chile’s product reliability and strong trading ties with the UK have seen it steadily move up the sales charts over many years. Jackson has been at the promotional body’s helm for the past five of 15 years with the organisation and previously worked in the wine departments at both Oddbins and Sainsbury’s.

58 Ann Douglas

Wine trading controller, Nisa

The Co-op’s acquisition of Nisa a year ago has given extra buying power to the group, to the benefit of its 3,500 member convenience stores. Before joining Nisa to head its wine operation in 2017, Douglas was a senior buyer with the Enterprise Inns pub company.

59 Chris Stroud

Marketing manager, New Zealand Winegrowers

Sauvignon Blanc has driven double-digit annual growth for New Zealand but its European generic marketing chief is faced with the task of expanding its appeal beyond what has become its cornerstone grape variety. Stroud is now seven years into the role, which he took on after working on a clutch of top Aussie brands including Penfolds and Wolf Blass.

60 Joseph Walsh

UK commercial director, Distell

Walsh took over at South African powerhouse Distell after six years in a senior role at Boutinot, while he has also worked for Diageo and Cobra and is a qualified solicitor. He now looks after brands including Nederberg and Durbanville Hills, along with some big Scotch whisky and cider labels, and his vision involves growing market share via a focus on quality, reassurance, trust and strong relationships.

61 Andy Cresswell

Chief retail officer, Bestway

There are few more challenging roles in drink than the one taken on by Cresswell at the start of the year: to inject renewed energy into Bargain Booze, Wine Rack and their related brands bought by Bestway after the collapse of Conviviality. He was previously managing director at forecourt operator MRH.

62 Cherie Spriggs

Head winemaker, Nyetimber

The Sussex wine producer has been one of the leading lights in the rise of English fizz over the past decade. Spriggs became the first woman and the first person from outside Champagne to be named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at last year’s International Wine Challenge, providing inspiration for the rest of the domestic vineyard industry.

63 Doug Wregg

Sales and marketing director, Les Caves de Pyrenne

Wregg and Les Caves de Pyrene always come up in trade conversations around the subject of natural” wines in their various forms. The company was championing indigenous grapes, organic viticulture and minimum intervention before many in the trade even knew it was a thing and Wregg has been the main conduit between retailers and producers.

64 Victoria Moore

Wine writer

As wine editor of the Daily Telegraph, Moore is one of the key commentators among some of the highest spenders in the UK wine market. Her books include How To Drink and The Wine Dine Dictionary, an A-Z guide of suggestions for “happy eating and drinking”.

65 Hal Wilson

Managing director, Cambridge Wine Merchants

Wilson will be the first to tell you that the success of the East Anglian wine retail chain is a team effort, with co-founder Brett Turner, buyer Stewart Travers and many others contributing to the success on which its reputation has been forged. Wilson is the amiable frontman who ensures that what CWM does acts as an inspiration to the wider trade.

66 Joe Wadsack

Broadcaster

Wadsack traded a cadetship in the RAF to become a high flier in the wine industry and has since amassed one of its most varied CVs. He’s been a buyer for Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, worked in Oddbins shops, written for the Sunday Express, appeared on countless TV shows, was one of the founders of Tesco’s wine PR agency Cube Communications, and much, much more. 

67 Ben Henshaw

Director, Indigo Wines

Indigo is one of the new breed of smallish importers bringing in unusual, artisanal wines to the UK, and has quickly become one of the most-dropped names among the top tier of independent wine stores. Henshaw set up the business in 2003 after working for the property website Up My Street.  

68 Muriel Chatel

Managing director, Borough Wines

Chatel’s London wine shop chain has taken a hit as Borough focuses more on wholesaling, but its stores still show how high street drinks retailing can appeal providing you’ve got a creative intent and a sound commercial approach. Borough is now looking to get on the front foot as a supplier after selling its barrel wines to other off-trade indies.

69 Richard Bampfield MW

Consultant

Bampfield’s client list over the years has included the likes of Chile’s Santa Rita and Champagne’s Dom Pérignon. He became an MW after running wine shops for Manchester brewer JW Lees in the 1980s and today is perhaps best known as the named author on in-store tasting notes that persuade Lidl shoppers to stretch their wine horizons.

70 Ted Sandbach

Managing director, Oxford Wine Co

After drifting away to the world of bars and cafés, Oxford Wine Co has steered back towards the off-trade with the recent opening of its shop in the centre of the city that gives the company its name. Sandbach is a frank and forthright commentator on the burning wine trade issues of the day.

71 Andrew Hawes

Managing director, Mentzendorff

Mentzendorff traces its origins in the wine business back to the 1850s and its association with Champagne house Bollinger has been a constant feature for all that time. Its portfolio also includes prestigious names such as Taylor’s port, Rhône producer Chapoutier, Langlois-Château of the Loire and the South African producer Klein Constantia.

72 Justin Knock MW

UK director at California Wine Institute

Knock and business partner Damien Jackman confounded wine industry norms in 2017 when they added the generic UK marketing role for Californian wine to their ownership of retailer Philglas & Swiggot. They continue to run the two London wine shops despite selling them to Irish retailer O’Brien Wine in 2018.

73 Neal Martin

Wine writer

Martin made his name as a reviewer for Robert Parker’s highly-influential Wine Advocate. He joined the online publication Vinous last year, where he writes on Bordeaux, Burgundy, New Zealand and South Africa. Bordeaux is his speciality and he has written an acclaimed book on Pomerol.

74 Alex Hunt MW

Purchasing director, Berkmann Wine Cellars

Hunt is in charge of putting together the portfolio of a company which has been supplying the upper echelons of the independent and restaurant trade for more than 50 years. He began his career as a van driver for Oddbins, where he may well have transported top-notch wines from the likes of Georges Duboeuf and Antinori that are the stars in Berkmann’s portfolio today.

75 Frazer Thompson, Chapel Down

76 Richard Cochrane, Felix Solis

77 James Tanner, Tanners

78 James Davis MW, Adnams

79 Craig Durham, Buckingham Schenk

80 Toby Sigouin, Inverarity Morton

81 Jessica Hutchinson, Vindependents

82 Ruth Spivey, Wine Car Boot

83 Jon Worsley, Bancroft

84 Charles Lea, Lea & Sandeman

85 Martin Skelton, Gonzalez Byass

86 Adam Brett-Smith, Corney & Barrow

87 Carl Plath, Morgenrot

88 Chris Campbell, Waddesdon Wines

89 Douglas Wood, Woodwinters

90 Ben Carfagnini, Friarwood

91 Richard Jones, Reh Kendermann

92 Daniel Lambert, Daniel Lambert Wines

93 Harry Georgiou, Amathus

94 James Hocking, James Hocking Wine

95 James Dawson, Humble Grape

96 Fiona Juby, CIVB

97 Sarah Abbott MW

98 Phil Innes, Loki

99 Nicky Forrest, Wines of Germany

100 Nick Tatham MW, CWF

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