Welcome to our annual rundown of the 100 most influential people in the UK wine trade, spanning retailers, suppliers, lobbyists, writers, marketers and TV stars.

Size matters in this list – the amount of wine somebody sells, the number of stores they buy for or the number of readers their column reaches – but it is by no means the be all and end all.

Our barometer also takes into account an individual’s willingness to put his or her head above the parapet and take the lead on controversial issues affecting the trade, and it also takes into account the circles an individual moves in and the ears they can bend as they seek to shape the nation’s drinking habits.

It is sure to spark debate, but we hope you find it an enjoyable read. 


Wine category director, Aldi

James has enjoyed great success in creating a sharp, focused range of great-value wines that have won several high-profile awards and sent sales soaring in recent years. 
In the 12 weeks to February
 28, 2016, Aldi was the only major UK retailer enjoying growth in its wine division, 
with sales up 4.4% in value as 
all its rivals faltered (Kantar). 
It has significantly outpaced 
the market for years now
 and has shaken it to its core, leaving rivals playing catch-up. The traditional Big Four have been mimicking Aldi’s success, implementing EDLP, abandoning discounting strategies, culling ranges and laying off staff. But Aldi still continues to eat away at their market share, and it is all based on James’s shrewd buying decisions.

He has consistently offered shoppers good quality without cheating them on price. Aldi has entry-level wines at the £2.99 mark and some fine wines are incredibly low-priced too, such as a complex fruit-bomb of a 2003 Riesling Auslese for £9.99 and a Limoux whose smoky, steely, fruity and savoury flavours belie its £6.99 price tag. James is on a mission to trade up shoppers who have become evangelical about Aldi’s entry-level offering and has recently bolstered the retailer’s range with a Châteauneuf-du-Pape retailing at £16.99. He recently told OLN: “If people have always spent £4 on an Australian Chardonnay but at Christmas treat themselves to a Chablis, it would be a problem if they then thought it was not much better than the £4 bottle of Chardonnay. That wouldn’t help us get people to trade up, which ultimately is what we are trying to do. We want customers to spend a little bit extra because, proportionally, the extra quality will go a long way.”

Aldi is growing overall sales 15% year on year and chief executive Matthew Barnes knows wine has been the driving force. “Many customers who now do full shops with us began with wine,” he says. “They see we’ve won an award, come in and try it, are blown away by the quality and start to pick up other things.” That explains why Aldi has placed wine at the centre of its push into the online market. The only categories the retailer is selling online are wine, bathrooms, bedrooms and garden furniture, illustrating how important wine is to Aldi. It has been hailed as a roaring success, and accounts for a third of the retailer’s wine sales in the London area.

It is not resting on its laurels as it bids to capture even greater market share, and has just started sponsoring primetime TV programme The Wine Show, highlighting the fine wines it offers with eye-catching idents. Aldi scooped Wine Retailer of the Year and Supermarket of the Year at the 2016 Drinks Retailing Awards, and James is a driving force behind that.


Head of BWS, Waitrose

While Aldi and Lidl have made a lot of noise stealing market share from the Big Four at the bottom end of the market, upmarket Waitrose has been quietly chipping away at their share from a loftier, more premium perch. It is one of just three retailers in growth in the 24 weeks to February 28, 2016, according to Kantar – along with Aldi and Lidl – and is growing by shunning deep discounts and putting its faith in shoppers’ willingness to treat themselves to more expensive wines. Rather than seizing upon trends, it sets them, as evidenced by the way it has championed English wines – it has just bolstered its range by 12 SKUs – and the way it is battling to premiumise the Prosecco category.

Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay it is that many of independent wine merchants we speak to – who are united in their hatred of the supermarkets – can’t help but applaud the Waitrose wine department. Behind it all is Petrassi, one of only a few hundred MWs in the world, and an immensely well respected figure in the UK trade. At the last Drinks Retailing Awards, “where’s Pierpaolo? I need to speak to Pierpaolo!” was a familiar refrain among suppliers. And who wouldn’t want to be aligned with someone dedicated to growing in a sustainable fashion, treating wine with respect and focusing on value above volume? 


Head of BWS, Lidl

At 28 years old, Hulme is by far the youngest person on this list, but his meteoric rise to the top of the wine trade shows no signs of slowing. He revolutionised Lidl’s wine offering across the UK by sourcing great value wines from parcels of between 6,000 and 60,000 bottles and hiring an expert panel of MWs to taste them to ensure they met high standards before listing them. It has led to phenomenal growth in Lidl’s wine department over the past few years. For the most part, its wine range is tight and focused. Our company philosophy is that we have to be the best value in the market,” he says. We keep the listed section quite tight but never take our eyes off it. Certain retailers will have 20 Aussie Chardonnays, but I have only one, so we have to get it right. If it isn’t right, people will never buy it again.” But he has been able to play around a lot more on his Wine Cellar promotions, which have led to rave reviews from influential wine writers. An Arbois, a Jurançon, a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape and a Pinot Noir from Alsace featured on the French promotion last year, while the latest has bolstered Lidl’s range with wines from England and Hungary. Hulme has been rewarded for his efforts with a promotion to Lidl’s international head of wine. He will still have a big say in its UK range but he will also be busy applying the magic he has displayed on these shores to its global estate. 


Chief executive, Conviviality

Hunter has been a force to be reckoned with since leaving Waitrose to take over at Bargain Booze in 2013. Under her stewardship, it has rebranded itself Conviviality, floated on the stock market, snapped up a host of rival chains – including Wine Rack, Rhythm & Booze and GT News – launched discount superstore chain BB’s Warehouse, grown its estate, increased profits and hired an MW to overhaul its wine offering. But the real game changer came last October, when it purchased Matthew Clark – the largest independent drinks wholesaler in Britain and bigger than the next seven combined – for £200 million. The business now has two main divisions – Conviviality Retail and Matthew Clark – which are each headed up by a managing director. But Hunter is very much in the driving seat and
 is exploiting synergies between both sides of the business to carve out an extremely significant corner of the wine market. It has also just snapped up one of the largest suppliers to the on and off-trade, the recently merged Bibendum PLB, and the sky really is the limit for this ambitious company. On the retail side, Hunter recently told that OLN the firm plans to open at least 50 new stores in the 
year ahead, and it has even
 taken on Aldi and Lidl in a high-
profile ad campaign, reminding
 everyone its prices are still the 
cheapest in town. 


Wine buying manager, Tesco

Tesco has attracted criticism 
for simplifying its wine range, 
but it is actually just doing what Aldi and Lidl are being praised for – creating a smaller, focused range that is easier to shop 
and shuns wild promotional mechanics in favour of everyday low prices. The strategy may be starting to pay off. In the 12 weeks to February 28, 2016, Tesco performed better than every other retailer apart from Aldi and the Co-operative (Kantar). Sales declined, but not as sharply as Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, or even Waitrose and Lidl. Figures for the full year are less kind, but it suggests that things are starting to turn around for Tesco under Davis’s stewardship.


General manager, UK & Ireland, Accolade Wines

Paul Schaafsma was recently rewarded for growing sales of Accolade’s key brands and
cementing its position as
the UK’s leading supplier with a promotion to global chief executive. He still has a hand in the UK trade, but spends a lot of time globetrotting,
 and Harrison has 
stepped up to run the
 UK team. He has taken over at arguably the 
worst possible time, as suppliers nervously wait
to see the impact of range rationalisation and EDLP at the supermarkets. But Harrison is optimistic the Hardys and Echo Falls firm can prosper in this environment by working to a headline price and communicating the value of its wines through packaging, marketing and the liquid.


Chief executive, Majestic

Gormley has had a busy year since Majestic bought out the business he founded, Naked Wines, in a £70 million reverse takeover and installed him as chief executive of the group in April 2015. Upon being parachuted in to replace Steve Lewis, he had to deal with the fallout from Majestic asking suppliers to part-fund a new warehouse in Hemel Hempstead and turn things around after Majestic’s dismal Christmas 2014 performance. Head buyer Justin Apthorp has stepped down as it bids to mend relationships with suppliers and more trust has been put in managers making buying decisions, but it posted another poor set of half-year results, with profits halving. However, pressure has since eased on Gormley, as Majestic reported strong results over the 10-week Christmas trading period, growing retail sales by 7.3%. It is on course to reach £500 million in sales by 2019, while Naked continues to go from strength to strength with that side of the business, breaking through the £100 million annual sales barrier for the first time in 2015-16.


Managing director, Europe, Treasury Wine Estates

Treasury Wine Estates became the UK’s second-largest supplier when it snapped up Percy
 Fox – and with it Blossom Hill – in October 2015. It left Townsend with the intriguing challenge of integrating a brand associated with large volumes into a portfolio of well-respected brands that sell for higher prices. Blossom Hill is not a natural fit alongside the likes of Wolf Blass, Lindemans, Rosemount, Penfolds and Beringer, but it opens up a huge new chunk of the market for TWE – and if anyone can pull it off it’s Townsend, who has previously worked for companies as diverse as Scottish & Newcastle, Constellation and Louis Latour.


Head of wine operations, Morrisons

Jarman led Morrisons to its first-ever Supermarket of the Year award at the last International
 Wine Challenge after creating an
own-brand range that scooped 80 awards at the IWC, including a gold for its Premier Cru Chablis. It was a reward for three years of hard work during which Jarman has overhauled Morrisons’ wine offering in a bid to deliver value and excitement, notably grouping wines by taste profile and not just by colour, country and region. With its strong own-label offering it can bring diversity to its shelves at a time when grocers are being criticised for homogenising their wine selections, and start to fight back against Aldi and Lidl.


General manager, Concha y Toro

Cocha y Toro’s UK business is soaring under Doyle’s leadership: Casillero del Diablo is up 24.7%
in value, has the highest average price point in the UK’s top 10 brands at £6.16 and has the UK’s bestselling Cabernet Sauvignon; Cono Sur is up 31.9% and has 
the UK’s top Pinot Noir; and Trivento is up 133% and has the UK’s leading Malbec (IRI, year to January 2016). It is driving most of the growth in Chile and Argentina which, along with New Zealand, are the current star performers of the wine trade, and Doyle and his team deserve much praise for developing brands that are well respected in the trade and loved by consumers.


BWS category director, Asda

Ford has championed low-alcohol and fruit flavoured wine as Asda seeks to display its credentials as a responsible retailer and attract shoppers by grouping these wines in a prominent bay of their own. It has rationalised its range, but has added excitement via Wine Atlas, which features 17 quirky wines from off the beaten track, all at under £7.


Managing director, Pernod Ricard UK

While several suppliers have been fretting about range rationalisation at leading retailers, O’Flynn is highly bouyant. Retailers are working with fewer suppliers and streamlining their ranges, and that should benefit the likes of Pernod if their market-leading brands get more breathing space on shelf. It is a case of survival of the fittest and Pernod brands Campo Viejo and Brancott Estate are surging at present, while Jacob’s Creek has returned to growth on the back of a strong ad campaign.


BWS category trading manager, The Co-operative Group

Cairns has led The Co-operative to seize a 10% share of the UK wine market for the first time, according to Nielsen, and he anticipates it will grow further after implementing the greatest range change the retailer has seen in years. Cairns has focused on curating ranges more carefully on a store-by-store basis, taking account of the demographics in each store’s area.


Chief executive, Enotria

Enotria merged with Coe Vintners to create a super-agency at the end of 2015, meaning Christensen now controls a far larger company with an enormous portfolio and can plot the best way to exploit synergies between
the two businesses. Beyond that, Christensen is influential because he is such an eloquent and powerful speaker who is unafraid to put his head above the parapet and has regularly impressed the trade with speeches at conferences. He is currently arguing – and convincingly so – that the off-trade can learn from the on-trade by bringing diversity to ranges and driving value rather than volume.


BWS category director, Sainsbury’s

Newman has slipped under the radar somewhat since taking over from Andy Phelps as Sainsbury’s BWS boss a year ago. She has not given interviews with any quarter of the press, but has instead quietly set
about overhauling the retailer’s range, with bosses hailing the performance of her team’s own-label Pignoletto – an Italian sparkling wine – as one of the reasons the retailer enjoyed a strong Christmas. Sainsbury’s 
is busy axing multibuys in its wine range to focus on EDLP, and will persist with a strategy
 of reducing promotions and vouchers in the year ahead.



Hutchinson is the figurehead of Vindependents, a group of 21 independent wine merchants formed to combine their buying power and import direct from source, working with more than 40 suppliers. It started with 17 members, including Corks Out, Cambridge Wine Merchants and The Sampler – part-owned by Hutchinson and husband Jamie – and is looking to increase that number to 50. It is exhibiting at the London Wine Fair and organising a portfolio tasting to highlight the benefits of joining a group where members become shareholders.


UK director, Wine Australia

Jewell is a hugely respected member of the trade, combining the knowledge of wine that comes with MW status with strong retail experience at Tesco and Spar. She can put her skills and experience to great use as UK director at Wine Australia, the generic body representing the largest country of origin in the UK trade, and one that has consistently shown volume and value growth over the past few years.



The most eagerly-awaited and widely-talked about wine book of the past year was the new edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine. Edited by Robinson, it’s regarded as either the bible or encyclopaedia of the wine trade, depending on whether you take a spiritual or secular approach to wine matters. FT columnist Robinson remains one of the world’s most respected impartial commentators on wine.


Chief executive, Berry Bros & Rudd

A change of pace and style in 2015 for the former Tesco
wine boss – previously the serial number one on the Most Influential list. The move to the hot seat at the Queen’s wine merchant in October led to Jago making pronouncements about the potential for a clamour by millenials for wines from the classic French regions,
 a change from the more
 mainstream retail issues 
that used to occupy his 
time. But if Jago was
 under any illusions
about the task in 
hand, the publication
 of BBR’s 2014/15
 accounts were
 a reminder 
of sobering


Chief executive, Bibendum PLB

Saunders sits atop a rapidly- evolving drinks group which comprises the core Bibendum business, independent-focused Walker & Wodehouse, spirits and beer shipper Instil Drinks and the events company Wondering Wine Co. But it was the acquisition in October 2014 of rival agency PLB that really signalled the scale of Bibendum’s ambition. The combined operation’s portfolio of brands and producers seems never to stop growing, nor does the company’s reputation within the trade, so much so that it has just been snapped up by Conviviality. 



The stock of the one-time Oddbins worker and buyer 
for Waitrose has seen a sharp upturn in value in recent years, thanks to Wadsack’s increased broadcast media profile and a near-ubiquitous presence at tastings and exhibitions, where his encyclopaedic knowledge and sharp palate are matched by the passion and entertainment value of his presentation skills.


Chief executive, Wine and Spirit Trade Association

Much of the recent focus for the WSTA has been in championing the English wine industry
 and the pre-Budget campaign for 2017 will use the nation’s position as a wine producer – not just a massive consumer of imported wine – as the platform for a cut in duty.


Chief executive, Direct Wines

In former lives Thatcher 
sold people the means of communication as head of Carphone Warehouse’s Talk Talk and Top Up TV subscription service. Now he wants them to use their gadgetry to buy wine. Ten months as Laithwaite’s UK managing director primed him for the top job for the whole group and his experience in digital puts Direct Wines in a position to grow its own online business and the sector as a whole.


Chief executive, Liberty Wines

It’s perhaps fitting that Gleave should retain the same position on this year’s list as he did in 2015, because there’s been 
an unerring consistency to 
the long-term performance, growth and market presence of Liberty, the company he set up as an Italian specialist 20 years ago. Today’s Liberty portfolio covers all the major bases in the wine world while exploring more esoteric sources such as Armenia.


BWS trading manager, Marks & Spencer

The rise of Little Waitrose has threatened the M&S hold on retailing at the nation’s major transport hubs, but the chain’s precision in range and pack formats keeps it in pole position with wine-drinking commuters and day-trippers. Brooking progressed through the ranks at his current employer following a spell as a Waitrose store manager.


UK director, Wine Institute of California

The US may be the third-biggest volume seller of wine to the UK off-trade, but McLaren’s reign at the generic body has been notable for its success in championing the state’s premium wines. With the big brands having enough clout to fight their own corner in the mass market, McLaren has focused on providing a conduit between California’s quality producers and the UK’s top independents and restaurants, helping to establish a reputable presence for the state across a broad range of price points.


Managing director, Boutinot

Boutinot is a popular large
 wine supplier with top independent wine retailers and is also strong in supermarkets. Its continued success owes much to sticking to a principle of being “all about the wine”. Whiteley – with commercial director Michael Moriarty and Tony Brown MW – headed a 2013 management buyout of the company and it is bucking the UK wine trend with annual growth of 6%-7%.


Managing director, Oddbins

Of all the wine trade people 
who don’t hide their light under a bushel, Akintola is probably the one who’s least careful about the place of concealment. His recent public pronouncements have included accusing Network Rail of the “systematic social cleansing” of independent traders after the chain was threatened with eviction from its famous London Bridge shop. Another highlight from the chain was a campaign to woo Naked Wines staff by sending them love letters and gifts. But behind the larks Akintola has reinstated Oddbins as a credible commercial force un multiple specialist wine retailing.



ITV’s The Wine Show has laid down a marker for TV broadcast media coverage in the future, with 13 hour-long shows casting a shadow over the snatched five minutes here and there that the topic usually gets. Wine writer Fattorini took time out from his job at Bibendum to guide actors Matthew Rhys and Matthew Goode through the wine maze, with help from fellow expert Amelia Singer, a wine educator. Rhys and Goode are ostensibly the presenters but Fattorini has emerged as its centre of gravity and won rave reviews for his starring role in a show dubbed a cross between Countryfile and Top Gear.


Licensed trading director, Spar

With 2,400 stores, 50,000 staff and combined turnover of more than £3 billion in the UK, Spar is easily overlooked as a major force in high street retailing. Lewis is the fulcrum of the convenience chain’s BWS department, where the specialist expertise of wine trading manager Daphne Teremetz has seen the group add seven new wines to increase its own-label range to 55.


Managing director, Hallgarten Druitt

The Hallgarten team have been regular visitors to wine industry awards podia in recent months as the company’s reputation continues to burgeon under the stewardship of Bewes, the former commercial director
of Liberty Wines and sales & marketing director at Berkmann. Recent times have seen Hallgarten hone its commitment to independents to supplement a strong multiple and on-trade business. It’s been helped by the main company’s portfolio
of 1,000-plus wines and the esoteric collection put together by former Oddbins buyer Steve Daniel under the Novum banner.


Last August, Majestic reported the busiest hour of online ordering it had ever had. The cause? The Portuguese red
Porta 6 that had just been recommended by Susie Barrie MW to go with a barbecued lamb dish featured on BBC1’s Saturday morning cookery and chat show. It helped that host James Martin described it as one of the best reds in 10 years of doing the programme but that shouldn’t detract from the impact that can be made by a recommendation from one of the show’s squad- rotated team of wine experts, among them Olly Smith, Tim Atkin MW, Jane Parkinson, Peter Richards MW and Susy Atkins.


UK director, Wines of Chile

A much higher placing than in the 2015 list reflects the impact Jackson has had on Chile’s fortunes since being appointed to fill the shoes of the late Michael Cox in 2014. Jackson was the driving force behind last year’s mould-breaking Mercado Andino trade tasting – co-hosted with Argentina – and Chile’s own accompanying consumer event, Mercado Chileno. But the real proof of the pudding
 is in the commercial results, which see Chile as the only top seven country of origin, apart from Australia, to score annual off-trade growth and – perhaps more significantly – creeping ahead of South Africa in value in the quarterly Nielsen statistics that covered Christmas 2015.


Chief executive, The Wine Society

For many independents 
in certain parts of the UK – particularly the more well-heeled and rural locations – it’s the traditional mail order business of the Wine Society which continues to provide the biggest opposition, rather than rival high street retailers. Since 2012 McMillan has overseen the evolution of the organisation into the digital world while staying true to its member-owned mutual society ethos.


Managing director, Copestick Murray

In appointing new members to the Copestick Murray team in November, Copestick indicated that the business was trading 50% up on a year earlier, with sales of Prosecco and the I Heart range propelling the company forward. The I Heart version of the Italian fizz is the biggest selling of its kind in impulse where the brand as a whole now outsells the likes of Lindemans and Barefoot.


Chief executive, Virgin Wines

In 2002 Wright sold Direct Wines a majority stake in the Warehouse Wine Co he had set up two years earlier. He was appointed boss
 of Direct’s Virgin Wines division 
in 2008 and became one of Virgin’s owners when he led a management buyout five years after that. In its first full year of independence, to last July, it grew revenue by 13% and added 40,000 active customers.


Chief executive, Australian Vintage

2015 marked a stunning return
 to form for the supplier of the Australian wines that carry McGuigan’s family name. A serious entrant into the sparkling market has helped it into the top 20 alcohol brands in the UK off-trade and McGuigan has targeted a top three spot in wine with the arrival of its Founder’s Reserve wines and by stepping up a marketing deal with Masterchef’s John Torode.


Chief executive, Booker

Last year’s acquisition of Londis and Budgens from Musgrave added two more aces to an already strong hand in the cash and carry and convenience sector for Booker, which also has the Premier retail fascia and Makro. The expansion of its Classic Drinks wholesale subsidiary into a national operation over the past three years also makes Booker strong in wine in the on-trade,
 an area of relative traditional weakness for the group.


Managing director, Kingsland

Sagar’s beloved Manchester
 City have taken a step back in football’s pecking order this season but the drinks group that he heads continues to head for the top. It’s already one of the leaders in UK bottling, with the majority of the 40% of the Co- op’s range that is bulk shipped handled by the firm. The imminent arrival of a bottling line for sparkling wine could be a game-changer.


Vice president and general manager EMEA, Gallo

Blossom Hill’s acquisition by Treasury Wine Estates may serve to reinforce its position as the top Californian in the UK but Gallo is fighting all the way with new additions to its premium ranges and the Gallo Family Vineyard Spritz range. Roberts’ major success is the seemingly unstoppable rise of Barefoot, one of the off-trade’s fastest-growing wine brands.


The flamboyant Origin boss is best known as the industry’s Mr Fairtrade, with the Fairhills brand and a host of others in South Africa, but the company has slowly built a global empire that includes Australian and New Zealand brands, vineyards in Argentina, a bottling operation in Canada and a partnership with a company that controls 15% of the vineyards in Languedoc.


Owner, Vagabond Wines

The former New York-based management consultant landed in the UK wine trade with his first shop in west London six years ago, an offering built around a radical template of a small and eclectic wine range and a commitment to what were then new-fangled sampling machines, which meant customers could try just about anything before they bought. He’s now among the most ambitious and expansionist independent wine merchants with no sign of stopping at his current three sites.


Chief executive, Alliance Wine 

Tynan heads up the Scottish-based wine business Alliance, which stretches its expertise across the full spectrum of importing, distribution and production, servicing both 
the on and off-trade, at home and abroad. It’s a big remit
but Tynan, with his wealth of experience in many areas of the trade, has the expertise
 and experience to pull it off.
 He is well known for being a champion of New World wines. Back in 2006 he established Alliance Wine Australia with friend and colleague Giles Cook MW, who holds the position of wine development director at Alliance.


Managing director, UK & Ireland, Les Grands Chais de France

Kears has taken over from industry veteran Tim North as managing director of Les Grands Chais de France’s UK and Ireland operations. He previously held the role of off-trade director at the firm, and has a range 
of commercial positions 
under his belt, including roles at Treasury Wine Estates, Anheuser-Busch and Bulmers. Kears now manages a team of 30 staff at the largest supplier of French wine to the UK trade. He speaks passionately about reinvigorating the French wine category and his formidable commercial experience and sharp business brain make him a strong figurehead for a crucial sector of the wine trade.



Clarke is well known as one
 of the world’s leading wine experts. His passion for the subject dates back to his student days at Oxford University, where he captained the wine-tasting team. Clarke’s career isn’t showing any signs of easing off and, if anything, is becoming increasingly eclectic. Most recently the former professional singer
has been writing a series of wine-related concerts, which includes appearances at the 2016 Cheltenham Music Festival, where he plans to take guests on a “musical wine tour”.


Managing director, Hatch Mansfield

McGrath was parachuted in from Mentzendorff to become managing director of the newly revised version of Hatch Mansfield in 1994 and since then it’s gone from strength to strength. The company originally dates back to 1802, and under McGrath’s watch the revamped business has grown from a team of five to 40 people, and it boasts an impressive list of family-owned wineries including Louis Jadot, Villa Maria and Errazuriz. Most recently McGrath and the company have been working with Champagne Taittinger to establish an English vineyard in Kent, under the name of Domaine Evremond.


Head of alcohol and impulse, IRI

Among the analyst firms, Magill has emerged as the leading commentator on the UK wine trade, widely quoted among trade titles and the mainstream media on the nation’s shopping habits, particularly focusing on the convenience channel and on Prosecco.


Owner, Corks Out

Last year the Cheshire-based chain opened its sixth store in the country. Yates, who opened her first in 2003, had spent two years looking for the perfect site to grow the company’s shop and wine bar concept – a format that is working well at her Stockton Heath store. The sixth shop, in Knutsford, has a south-facing garden and an upstairs area for gourmet dinners. It’s a concept Yates is keen to develop and she already has her eyes on a seventh site.


Olly Smith was inspired to join the trade after attending a free tasting in Oddbins many years ago, and clearly 
it was an early career calling he did well not to ignore. His wine communicating CV has earned him a place in Debrett’s 500, while the nation continues to enjoy his regular appearances in a range of TV programmes, including BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. He has regular wine columns in The Mail on Sunday and other publications.


Chief executive, Wine & Spirit Education Trust

Harris, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Drinks Retailing Awards, is a well-respected trade veteran, but shows no signs of slowing down in his efforts to raise the profile of the WSET. Over the past year there has been plenty of activity to indicate he’s succeeding in this task. In February the WSET unveiled its International Alumni Advisory Board to foster links between its graduates across the world. The highly experienced board of wine education specialists all report into Harris.


Show director, London Wine Fair

It is Carter’s job to make sure the three-day London Wine Fair goes smoothly and, although the event has a 36-year history, Carter has the challenge of making each year more impressive than the last. The 2016 event looks on course with an expected 18,000 wine buyers, producers and trade professionals sampling and displaying some 13,000 wines from around the world. The move back to Olympia and a refocusing on the UK trade have given the fair vitality and helped it rediscover its soul.


Managing director, Cambridge Wine Merchants

The business Wilson founded with Brett Turner in 1993 now sits as one of the largest independent wine merchants in the country, operating four branches of its own and franchising three others. Wilson and his buying team make it their mission to champion upcoming and on-trend wine regions and classic fortified wines.


Founder, Borough Wines

Her London wine stores have been described as “hip” and
 the wines they sell – mainly Old World – tend to originate from small producers, often with a quirky story to tell. The business is now a long way from where it began back in 2002, when Chatel started out selling just 10 organic wines at Borough Market. It now has seven stores, including one outside of London, and supplies barrel wines to other quality independents.


Chief executive, Portman Group

When Ashworth took up this role in 2011 he brought with him a career background in health policy, insights and decision-making, with specialism in alcohol and obesity policy. It’s no doubt this impressive CV makes him best placed to deal with a challenging role at the Portman Group, which faces an increasingly diverse alcoholic drinks market along with layers of complicated legislation.


Wine writer

The Sunday Express wine columnist has garnered consumer appeal through the approachable geekiness of his Wine Anorak blog. Recently 
he has been blogging about 
his role as a panel chair at the International Wine Challenge, while he is set to present a masterclass at the London Wine Fair, where he will explore the diversity of wines from the upcoming Portuguese region, Quinta da Alorna.


Sales and marketing director, Les Caves de Pyrenne

Former sommelier Wregg was one of the early recruits to Les Caves de Pyrene’s team, joining in 1996, and his role now is wide-ranging: he travels as a wine buyer while, back in the UK, he manages the growing sales team. He also spends a lot of time blogging about wine and particularly “natural wines”, which is one of Les Caves’ specialist areas. Last month he hosted the Real Wine Fair in London, which showcased wines made organically, bio- dynamically and naturally.


Wine writer

Jukes has clocked up a batch of awards in recognition of his wine writing and communicating. He even once secured the title of Honorary Australian of the Year, due to his passion for Australian wines. It’s still a passion of his – this spring he can be found presenting his 100 favourite bottles at the Australian Wine Roadshow, at different venues across the UK. Jukes writes for the Daily Mail and is the author of a number of books.


Managing director, M Wine Store and M Restaurants

Williams is a well-known figure in the world of food and hospitality, having held the respected position of managing director for the Gaucho chain before setting up his own M restaurant. Last year he opened the second of these in London’s Victoria, incorporating two restaurant concepts: M Grill and M Raw, along with the first M Wine Store and a members’ club. The M Wine Store is definitely one to watch – its director of wine is Zack Charilaou, ex-Gaucho head sommelier, and between them the pair have selected “unusual and premium” wines from six countries.


UK market director, Wines of South Africa

Wehring works tirelessly to raise the profile of South African wines in the UK and last year was no exception. The Wozani one-day event in October, which showed wines only available to independents and the on-trade, was set up in response to the growing interest in premium South African wines. It featured a broad range of producers from up-and-coming wineries, along with well-established ones.


Managing director, Sopexa

Burchett has secured a host of awards for her work promoting French wine in the UK, and 
it’s a mission she continues to embrace with passion. Last
 year Burchett announced that Sopexa would extend its reach outside of France as it added
 the first non-French brand to 
its portfolio with Portuguese producer Sogevinus. It has recently followed that up with its first Turkish winery.


Wine critic

The American wine expert Robert Parker has been hailed “the most influential wine critic in the world”, and while he isn’t specifically UK focused, his ability to sway consumer interest in a certain wine – as well as his influence on those in the industry – warrants him a place in this list. His 100-point rating system for wine is still used today after he designed the system to help differentiate “an average wine from an exceptional wine”. This year he has revamped his own website, which includes a database of 300,000 tasting notes.


Managing director, Fells

Under the leadership of Moody, Fells continues to develop and grow its portfolio of brands, many of which are fortified wines. This year the importer announced the launch of a limited-edition Graham’s port 
to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday. The company also remains focused on adding new fine wine brands to its portfolio; last summer Fells announced it would take over the UK distribution for Australian wine producer Brown Brothers.


Owner, Philglass & Swiggot

With his degree in industrial chemistry and food science Justin Knock has a deep understanding of the winemaking process and he makes his own wines. He bought London wine merchant Philglas & Swiggot in 2014 and is winemaking consultant to Encirc.


Managing director, Reh Kendermann / chairman, SH Jones

Jones juggles two key roles in the trade. At Reh Kendermann his focus is on ensuring Black Tower is “the most successful German wine brand in the world”. With his other hat on he also maintains a role at his Cotswold-based family business, SH 
Jones. The business comprises a wholesale operation plus four shops and an online business trading as Hawkshead Wines. This year it relocated one of its stores to create an expanded Cellar Shop.


Chief executive, New Zealand Winegrowers

Gregan is determined to ensure New Zealand wine’s premium image continues and so far it’s working out well. In the UK
 New Zealand wines continue to command a higher bottle price than any other wine-producing country and the gap is widening, according to recent data. At the end of 2015 Nielsen data showed the average price of New Zealand wine came in at £7.37 compared to the overall UK average of £5.46.


Marketing director, English Wine Producers

There’s a case for arguing that this is English wine’s golden age: last year was a record harvest, English wine sales are up in the UK, wineries are winning awards and expanding their operations and a major centre for English wine is set to be built in Sussex. At the forefront of all this is English Wine Producers, the marketing body for English wines, headed by Trustram Eve, who is the voice of the nation’s wine producers.


Wine writer

Moore’s much-celebrated wine column in the Telegraph has recently discussed pairing wines with pizza and highlighted the best of Lidl’s “cheap and chic” French wine range. By blending a strong knowledge of how the business of wine works
 with a willingness to focus on mainstream national favourites such as pizza and Lidl – all in an engaging and informative style – Moore ensures millions of Brits regularly turn to her articles for advice.


Managing director, Mentzendorff

The Bollinger Champagne distributor maintains a focus on independent family-owned estates. Last year it bolstered its portfolio of South African wine with Hamilton Russell Vineyards. It also continues to put its weight behind its key Fladgate Partnership of port brands – Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft – particularly in the wake of the news earlier this year that branded port represents 71% 
of total sales by volume in the UK.


Chief executive, Wine Intelligence

Halstead co-founded and 
runs the industry’s specialist research agency with husband Richard and both are intelligent commentators on trade events and regulars on the bill at major wine business conferences. Wine Intelligence’s consumer attitude surveys and detailed reports offer brand owners and retailers genuine insight into wine markets around the world, drilling down into the way people shop, not just the sales figures.


Managing director, Negociants UK

Former vice president premium wines & wine development at Constellation Europe, Thorpe took over the reins at Negociants in 2009, and under his guidance the company has collated an impressive stable of Australian fine wines linked to its owner, Yalumba. Thorpe often speaks passionately to the media about what he believes will be a rosy future for premium Australian wines.


Wine correspondent

As the wine correspondent of The Observer and a contributor to it sister title the Guardian, Williams is unofficial advisor 
to the nation’s chattering classes. His columns eschew the supermarket shopping list style favoured by many of his peers to champion esoteric wines sold by independents.


Managing director, Lanson

Though lower-priced fizz threatens Champagne’s market position, Lanson has pushed on under Beavis with its Nielsen crowning its Brut Rosé NV the off-trade’s best-selling pink Champagne by value and volume in the course of the last year. Alongside Möet, the company is a standard bearer for premium brands in a heavily-promoted category.


Chief executive, Hedonism Wines

Fokina heads up the world’s most wonderful wine store in London’s Mayfair, presiding over a range that features thousands of rare bottles and which regularly excites consumers and the trade alike.


Owner, Bottle Apostle

The ambitious London chain has five shops in which 550 wines are displayed with colour-coding and food matches to make shopping for wine less intimidating.