Hattingley Valley was founded on 25 beautiful south-sloping acres of Hampshire by Simon Robinson. In 2008, winemaker Emma Rice joined Hattingley and its first wine launched in 2013. 2020 was Hattingley Valley’s tenth anniversary. It should have been a year for the family-owned brand to celebrate, having won 90 medals and three World Champion trophies during its short history, but like so many other businesses, Hattingley Valley was faced with the challenges of Covid-19.
Before the pandemic, Hattingley sold most of its wine in restaurants, with direct-to-consumer sales making up less than five per cent of its business. With no knowledgeable sommeliers on hand to explain the delights of its wines, the brand was forced to have a change of strategy. It started promoting its wines via social media so effectively that it was quickly overwhelmed by a huge increase in consumer orders. Undeterred, Hattingley rebuilt and fully integrated its website so orders could be processed speedily and efficiently, something which the brand is still benefiting from.
Hattingley’s first ever still wine from the 2019 harvest was released just days into the first lockdown. With restaurants shut, it had to be sold direct, luckily with great results. Wonderful weather in the 2020 growing season enabled Hattingley to make more styles of still wine, something the brand will continue to do, weather permitting.
Lockdown saw another adventurous departure for Hattingley. ‘We took the plunge and decided to gamble on being the first English winery to promote ourselves on national TV,’ says Commercial Director Gareth Maxwell. ‘We certainly raised a few smiles with our tongue-in-cheek advert that was all in French. It made a huge difference to our brand awareness and sales’. The commercial aired on Sky TV for a month, followed by a stint on ITV. Meanwhile, throughout the pandemic, the brand supported Hospitality Action and The Rainbow Trust Foundation, to which it also donated a percentage of its Christmas sales.
Hattingley Valley has always traded on its Britishness rather than its Englishness. ‘We love promoting our English quirkiness and eccentricity, as our TV commercial shows, but we also highlight the painstaking care and attention that goes into producing our wines,’ says Gareth. ‘The world realises that Britain isn’t a country that cuts corners or produces inferior goods and that our wines are of the highest quality, able to stand shoulder to shoulder with those from the top producing wine countries.’
Following the enormous success of the 2014 Kings Cuvée, with its Hattingley Valley Happiness Guarantee, the brand has attracted more loyal fans to its Kings Club, offering free shipping and promotions. Lockdown meant people became more accustomed to buying wine online so Hattingley will continue to focus on this as well as building on its growth the world over. It is already probably the widest distributed English sparkling wine in the USA, and in 2021 they will continue to find ways of reaching new customers. 2020 has shown that this is a resilient, adaptable brand, able to take the necessary bold steps to meet any challenge.