Retailers believe the south west of England is lacking in premium wine destinations and are racing to establish venues in key sites across the region. 

The Totnes Wine Company, recently taken over by businessman Julian Packer, is set to roll out across the region, while another Devon-based retailer, Jaded Palates, also plans to add new stores to its portfolio. 

Chris Piper, who has been running Christopher Piper Wines in Ottery St Mary near Exeter since 1980, told DRN most of his competition is online because “there isn’t an awfully strong retail presence for wine in our area overall”. 

Totnes Wines’ Packer said: “We are currently developing the existing store as we have had planning permission to extend to give us a proper tasting area and a deli. The previous owner of the business, Nigel Pound, is still involved and will now be able to focus more on tastings and external events, as well as looking at bringing in more wines directly with a view to wholesaling at some stage. 

“We are actively looking at other venues in the south west. It makes the business more viable as it means we can buy wine in bigger quantities. We will add at least one shop in the next year and will aim for no more than five shops. I am looking at areas up to two hours’ travel from us to Bristol and across, so we are looking at the counties either side of Devon. 

“We would like to find similar towns but in Totnes people are very pro-indie shops and we are well supported by the community. It is affluent and the average bottle spend is £16.”

Jaded Palates, which is also close to the city of Exeter, has ambitions to become “the premium wine retailer and wine destination of the south west”.

Ian Renwick opened his first wine shop in Chagford in 2016. Earlier this year he took on business partner Gillian Mann, who bought into the business and now runs the company’s second store in nearby Ashburton.

He told DRN: “We are online and wholesale too, so we supply other shops and hotels. I used to be a winemaker in France so we took on a lot of wines directly from France and Spain. 

“The stores are quite similar and we focus on the local communities, both in small town areas. We do a lot of events and promotions and we now have a small wine bar area, so we have just installed wine dispensers. We want to show that wine needn’t be unapproachable. We want to make it fun and relaxing.

“We are thinking about new locations and we want to be the premium wine retailer and wine destination of the south west – that is our aim. We want to offer education and courses, and be a one-stop-shop for wine. We think we have the potential to move to larger cities, such as Exeter and Plymouth, as we don’t think these areas are very well served by the independent trade at the moment. We are also looking at Tavistock, Dartmouth and Totnes, and more market towns. I am keeping my ideas open. In some areas the on-trade element might work better. 

“At the moment I want to get these two stores bedded in, then in a year or so I will probably look at adding stores three and four. I want to build up our online presence first as well.”