Southwick Fine Wines
Southwick Fine Wines
My father always said to me "I don’t care what you want to do in life, just be the best at it". After 36 years of business and we are going from strength to strength and I am pleased that I have that continued support from Samuel Rhys & Jemima Rhys (the younger generation) who are involved in helping this to happen and grow.
Happy drinking to you all and I hope we can be of service to you in the future. Cheers!!
As with many stories, it started from a young age, my parents would go and have supper in the dining room, I would sneak downstairs and help myself to some sherry or maybe even some Martini if that had been left out on the drinks table…..how delicious it tasted. At this time, there was never much wine on the table, from memory, in the 1970s wine was not particularly fashionable, everybody drank spirits.
When I left Milton Abbey school, my father said to me "What do you want to do in life?". He had been in the hotel industry, as banqueting manager at the Dorchester Hotel in the 1930s, he then went on to become a Director of the Hyde Park Hotel, now known as The Mandarin Hotel. Given his background, I was fascinated with the world of hospitality. Upon considering the range prospects of the industry I looked at The Savoy Hotel, which was poorly paid with long hours and working weekends. With this being so, I switched my attention to wine.
On that note, my father sent me to Caen University in Normandy to learn French for two terms, from there I went to the Loire Valley (the harvest), then onto Bordeaux for 6 months to work with a wine merchant called Mestrazat. They owned 6 chateaux, all of which I was able to work at. One of the Chateaux was called Rayne Vigneau in Sauternes where I was sent for 3 weeks to pick the harvest, I was the only British person there, plus a couple from France, we stayed in a house at the Chateau, the rest were made up of a team of pickers from Spain who came each year (I believe it was there annual holiday) not a bad holiday to pick grapes, you were fed, housed, and paid. I think we were a team of 50 people; picking grapes in Sauternes is a labour of love, you have to go over the vines 2-3 times just picking the mouldy grapes only, this makes those delicious desert wines, as some critics say 'liquid gold'. Finally, the last pick would be anything not mouldy, these grapes would be used as the dry white wine of the estate.
After two years I returned to England, I started at the bottom, working in Thresher’s & Oddbins wine shops stacking shelves, I landed a job as manager of a private shop in Fulham called Hair of the Dog which I ran for two years. After which time, I needed a change given the 14 hour days, instead, I started to look for something else in the trade.
I got my break in 1989, I replied to a job advert, a company were looking for a wine broker to set up a London office to sell and distribute fine wine, it all looked rather daunting and it took me a week looking at the advertisement to apply. I landed the job, the first task was to locate an office and employ some staff. It all took off, the early years 1990s were quite challenging as 1991-1994 were not the best of wine years from France. The wine market was just beginning to open up in Asia, and Burgundy was growing in popularity there, the production in Burgundy is tiny compared to Bordeaux so the prices were only going to increase. This new business took me travelling to Asia to sell wine and to meet clients. We hosted dinners in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Tokyo and built up a good customer base. I began to travel to the USA, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. I remember visiting a retailer in Washington for the first time, the owner gave me a £20k order, back in the day that was quite substantial, I never forgot it!
After 14 years of running this operation, we took the plunge and start on our own in 2003, we carried doing what we had previously done but under our own name; travelling overseas, wine tastings twice a year, hosting lunches, giving customers and friends the chance to try wines. For me the pleasure comes when someone responds and says that was a great bottle. I spend more time now sourcing and tasting wines, the wine will sell its self once people have tasted it, like it and repeat orders. I seem to be blessed with a decent palate.
Bordeaux is the region where all 'the greats' are produced, although, we must never forget Burgundy and other regions of France. Going back to when I started, French wines were not well distributed and certain brands dominated the market, the system needed a shakeup. I decided that there was a gap in the market in the UK; customers & friends wanted great value wines, for everyday drinking, for £10-25 per bottle. We have strived over the years to find these value wines and have specialised in French wines to do so. When Bordeaux gets it right at this price point, there is nothing else that can beat it in the world, the Bordelais nail it every time. We may have to wait a few years to get the right vintage but when it comes along, the wine truly sings from the glass.
Our ambition is to build our portfolio and customer base over the years to come. We have access to a large range of wines which are available by request.
My father always said to me "I don’t care what you want to do in life, just be the best at it". After 36 years and going from strength to strength and I am pleased that I have continued support from Samuel Rhys & Jemima Rhys (the younger generation) who are involved in helping this to happen and grow.
Happy drinking to you all and I hope we can be of service to you in the future. Cheers!
From Our Customers
Jane Symons Willmot
Notorious Pink Rose from Southwick Wines is quite simply the most divine Rose ever ! The Southwick team are just amazing at ensuring that stocks are delivered and kept on tap at all times 💕xx"
My love of Rose started with notorious pink, It is simply the best! The professionalism and service you get from the team is outstanding. You can’t fault it. Thank you so much for your gorgeous rose and I can’t wait to order more"
Southwick Fine Wines always deliver on time, the service is incredible. And don’t get me started on the taste it’s incredible a must for any party"
Notorious pink rose all I can say is wow! The Southwick team were so professional and the delivery was super fast! Thank you again"