Retailer profile - Duncan Murray Wines

Man standing outside a shop with blue windows

2021 marks 20 years since Duncan Murray opened his eponymous wine shop in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. He tells Drinks Retailing what has changed over the past two decades – and about the time he cycled through a wine tasting

I went on a college trip to Bordeaux in 1989 and fell in love with wine. I worked in Oddbins for a few years after that – it was a good grounding for me, the good old days of Oddbins. I met my wife, Megan, and we moved to Montpellier in 1997, where I worked on the vines. I soon found out that wasn’t the life for me, and we returned with the idea of setting up shop.

The introduction of EPOS tills is one of the most pivotal moments of the past 20 years. They have made us more analytical and made ordering more efficient. Another moment was in 2010 when we won a Wines of Portugal award. Lastly, the rise of the wine bar – we opened ours in the shop in 2017 and it opened up a whole new market for us. People would come to the wine bar who don’t come to the shop. We haven’t reopened it since the pandemic (I don’t like that word, I prefer The Chap magazine’s term “the unpleasantness”). We plan to reopen in the new year – at the moment we use the space for small masterclasses and tastings. It’s important to continue to keep staff and customers safe.

I am always excited by Portuguese, Greek and Italian wines. They have so many grape varieties. Greece is especially fascinating – we sell more Greek wine than Australian wine. I once did a Greco-Roman tasting dressed as a Trojan – the outfit was polyester, very hot. I also did a Tour de France tasting where I cycled through the whole thing on a static bike.

Future wine tastings might turn into a disco and karaoke. Who knows? Our future plans also include an ecommerce platform. We surveyed our customers last summer and they said they wanted to be able to buy from us online. We just need a bit of time to get it up and running. I’ve also started to learn more about using social media. One of my customers is an expert.

The “unpleasantness” taught us to be more analytical. We now involve more people in the buying process and we also know we can adapt quickly.

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