The former boss of Stratford’s Wines Agencies has launched a new venture.

Tarrystone Wine Agencies, set up by Paul Stratford and his wife, Angela, is named after a historic stone in the centre of Cookham in Berkshire, where the pair run independent wine merchant Old Butchers Wine Cellar.

Tarrystone made its first appearance at the Wines of the Beautiful South tasting with Argentinian producer Bodega Marco Zunino, from Mendoza’s San Rafael region.

Other wineries are to follow shortly from Chile, two lesser- known Spanish wine regions and probably South Africa, but the agency plans to represent no more than one producer from any given region.

The wines are targeted solely at independent retailers and wholesalers, and Stratford said he was taking lessons from his own experience as a retailer.

“That was our roots – we supplied independents around the country and that is what we enjoy,” he said. “We can learn from having our own retail shop. We know what independents want and can work for them.”

Tarrystone is to be run separately from Old Butchers Wine Cellar, which is set to unveil a revamped website with a new e-commerce function in the coming weeks.

Stratford’s Wine Agencies was bought by Kingsland after going into administration in 2012.

Also making its debut at the Wines of the Beautiful South was North South Wines, a specialist wine distribution company set up by three former Ehrmanns employees – Kim Wilson,

Joy Edmondson and Felicity Billington. They have been joined by former Nyetimber finance head Hamish Gillespie.

North South Wines is part- owned by three wineries – Italy’s The Wine People, New Zealand’s Waimea Family Estate Wines and Australia’s De Bortoli – and provides agency distribution agreements for another 16 wine estates around the world, all of which are family-owned.

Commercial director Kim Wilson said: “The UK route to market has gone through considerable change in recent years and this is likely to continue. Customers are looking for increased flexibility from UK agents. They want a direct sourcing approach or access to competitively priced UK stock that is packed in the UK or imported.

“We offer our customers a broad and interesting portfolio balanced between direct supply and agency business.” The Wine People’s Stefano Girelli said: “To continue to supply competitively to customers without compromising on quality and service it is inevitable that some producers will look to invest in their own distribution.

“The Wine People is a forward-thinking company and we are excited to be part of a new model which addresses many of the challenges of working in this fast-paced market,” he added.