‘It doesn’t matter how much you know about wine, what your budget is, whether you’re buying for a special occasion or just a midweek dinner, it’s our job as wine merchants to find something that surprises and delights you.’
That’s a promise Berry Bros. & Rudd has been making to customers for three centuries. Its historic premises at 3 St James’s Street opened for business in 1698 and now houses two congenial consultation rooms, where customers can talk about their wine requirements surrounded by the history of the space, enjoying a glass of something delicious. There’s a lot of history to take in. Berry Bros. & Rudd has supplied the British royal family since the reign of George III.
Its wines were served on the Titanic and smuggled into prohibition-era America.
A 1760s tradition, turned modern-day novelty, involves the shop’s large scales, on which customers are still sometimes weighed, joining a fellowship that includes Lord Byron, William Pitt, Beau Brummell and the Aga Khan. These days, Berry Bros. & Rudd’s services have grown to include a wine club, a cellar plan, private wine events, a wine school, an online wine-broking exchange, outlets in Hampshire, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, and an award-winning website. There is a new state-of-the-art shop around the corner at 63 Pall Mall with enomatic wine sampling machines and hundreds of wines to buy, ranging in price from £10 to £10,000. A large cellar space beneath the St James’s Street shop, where the exiled Napoleon III was once sheltered by his friend George Berry, now buzzes with wine tasting evenings and lavish dinners hosted by winemakers and famous names, and cooked by a team of in-house chefs led by Stewart Turner (previously of the Waterside Inn at Bray).
The company is still owned and managed by members of the Berry and Rudd families. Lizzy Rudd has just taken over as the new chairman from Simon Berry, continuing the unbroken tradition of having a member of either family at the helm. Relationships set the company apart. Just as wine develops over time into something special, so too have Berry Bros. & Rudd’s partnerships with wine growers and château owners nurtured over many generations.
These close alliances allow it access to the very best wines all over the world, as well as the opportunity to discover gems that people have never heard of. Berry Bros. & Rudd has been awarded two Royal Warrants and has six masters of wine.
It offers a selection of more than 4,000 bottles, and its own-brand wines are crafted by some of the most accomplished winemakers in the world, among them the Burgundian stars Nicolas Potel and Patrick Javillier. Crucially, Berry Bros. & Rudd dismisses trends and pretension. It is keen to learn from its customers what they want to drink. It sees wine as an ever-evolving conversation, a fascinating learning journey, and it’s this refreshing, open-minded attitude that stokes the coals of its success.