For The Great Wine Company, 2020 was a year of transformation. Expanding nationwide delivery was reflected by June’s rebranding from Great Western Wine, a clear sign of growth beyond its original West Country base.From a local Bath start-up in 1983 selling to the trade, to a world-leading wine portfolio delivered to private customers buying online across the nation has been an epic journey.
‘The new name emphasises our greatest asset – the wineries from all over the world that we represent,’ says Edward Mercer, business manager. ‘Our core values remain rooted in the quality of our portfolio of wines; in celebrating the personalities that sit behind them; and in responding to individual tastes in recommending the right wine for each customer.’
Lockdown proved a huge opportunity as new customers hunkering down at home discovered The Great Wine Co. Its digital presence led the way into their homes. Instagram Live sessions hosted by the charismatic director of buying, Harriet Kininmonth, were a delightful, interactive liquid passport into the wine world. They brought to life moving stories of the passionate makers behind the wines, and how they engage with local communities to drive sustainability beyond the vineyards. Each episode featured a curated case of wines, with profits supporting local charities chosen by the winemaker. ‘By broadening the conversation from winemaking and appreciation of liquid in the glass to our winemakers’ roles in their local communities, we help customers engage with the human stories behind those wines,’ says Kininmonth.
This mission endures into 2021: great content, continued support of charitable causes close to these winemakers’ hearts, and commitment to producers who are pillars of their community. Wines with exceptional provenance and craftsmanship are more than a commodity; they reflect the places they are from and the people who make them. ‘Wine is all about people,’ Mercer adds with fervour. ‘We are a company run by wine people. Our mission is to introduce wine-lovers to the people who craft such wonderful wines with care, attention and passion.’
Customers are also increasingly health-conscious. Alternatives to wine for modern lifestyles have been added in response: Leitz alcohol-free Rieslings; premium CBD from OTO to counter anxiety, sleep issues and lack of focus; and innovative Copenhagen Sparkling Tea, developed by a former Michelin-starred sommelier.
The Great Wine Co always looks outwards, sourcing the world’s best wines and alternatives for a change of pace. That definition of ‘world’s-best’ now includes quality British products sourced from all quarters of the UK. The Great Wine Co proudly works with Britain’s best producers, such as Hattingley Valley wines, Cotswolds Distillery, Ditchling Spirits with its dry Sussex gin, Hepple Spirits, Kentish Pip Cider, whiskies from great established Scottish houses, and innovators like the Lakes Distillery, and beers from the craft Bristol brewery Wiper & True.
Representing home-grown talent is important – there is growing interest for sustainable sourcing, provenance and locality. ‘Our Britishness lies in understanding where British drinkers want to explore,’ says Mercer, ‘and bringing that world to doorsteps across the country.’