Praised by judges for its outstanding customer service, Stourbridge-based retailer The Wine Press was crowned Independent Drinks Retailer of the Year at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2024. Owner Edward Wilson tells Rachel Badham about the win, and the retailer’s plans for the rest of the year 

Winning Independent Drinks Retailer of the Year was a milestone moment for us. Being seen as exemplary by our peers is quite simply the ultimate accolade. It has been so uplifting and has given us a sense of validation, which in turn has encouraged us to further improve our customer experience. 

What we believe to be advantageous for us is our location, retail space and customer service. We are on a main thoroughfare that connects many well-travelled towns as well as countryside villages. This translates to us having a highly-varied demographic catchment, allowing us to utilise our large retail space with a vast array of products in all categories and price points with confidence. Our sizable car park combined with good storage space makes us one of the few indies where customers can park with ease, purchase substantially and have the order carried and loaded by shop staff . 

No matter the market or industry conditions, our ethos always remains that we want our customers to return to us. As the cost of living crisis persists, we look to identify lines that have seen a price increase beyond what we believe to be fair value, and then offer good value alternatives to these products. We can see this in effect as our customers keep coming back and keep regarding our previous suggestions as top-notch. 

Rum is doing particularly well at the moment. The multiples haven’t fully embraced this category yet, which is good news for us indies. Elsewhere, fruit-driven appassimento-style wines have become a real focus over the past 12 months. They have proven popular as approachable dinner party wines which cater for a wide range of palates. And while the gin boom might be ending, interest has gone back to core, quality gin expressions. 

This year, we are revamping two areas in-store. We’re transforming one area dedicated to custom gifting as well as converting an office to a hamper-creation space. But as ever, our plan is to find and showcase the most outstanding products for our customers while improving our own knowledge and having fun doing it. 

For retailers looking to enter the DRAs 2025, lean into what is working for you rather than force-fix things that aren’t a strength. Look to offer your customers a personalised shopping experience. Aim to be their favourite little secret that they want to tell people about. In the end, if your customers love the experience you provide, the DRAs judges will too.