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Top 100 Most Influential People in Wine 2017

Welcome to our annual list of the 100 most influential people in the UK wine industry, covering retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, writers, TV stars and lobbyists.

A new name for a modern market

Off Licence News has been rebranded to better reflect its position in the market and will now be called Drinks Retailing News as it champions the off-trade in 2017 and beyond.

Drinks Retailing News: evolution of a trade champion

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln was in the White House abolishing slavery, Queen Victoria was at the height of her power and William Ewart Gladstone was chancellor of the exchequer. The Football Association had just been founded, the very first London Underground tube was embarking upon its maiden voyage and Archduke Franz Ferdinand was born.

Flourishing independent sector continues to expand
A number of independent wine retailers are on the expansion trail and the sector is thriving, says a group representing the sector.

Jessica Hutchinson, managing director of Vindependents, which represents a number of independent wine merchants in the UK, told DRN members’ sales are strong and regular enquiries are coming in from people looking to set up wine shops.

Marks & Spencer sets itself apart with en primeur

Marks & Spencer has started selling 32 wines bought en primeur from the 2014 Bordeaux vintage as it aims to set itself apart from rival multiples. 

Cans of sparkling Pinot Grigio to tempt bubbly lovers

Sparkling Pinot Grigio in 20cl cans is the latest innovation from Off-Piste Wines in its bid to modernise the UK wine category.

The Benevolent to auction "priceless" Champagne collection

Drinks trade charity The Benevolent will auction a 13-strong collection of vintage Champagnes from Taittinger at the 2017 International Wine Challenge awards dinner.

Marston's takes over Bombardier brewer Charles Wells

Marston’s has consolidated its position as Britain’s leading ale producer by purchasing the Charles Wells brewery and brands for £55 million.

Diageo launches Smirnoff Red Cups initiative

Smirnoff is set to issue thousands of ‘Red Cups’ POS kits to retailers across the country, challenging them to create inspiring, in-store displays to be in the with the chance of winning £1,000.

Funkin brings more cocktail NPD to off-trade

Funkin has revealed its latest NPD for the convenience channel in the form of a trio of premium cocktail shakers.

Kingsland releases third phase of Wine Pro research

Kingsland Drinks has released its third phase of Wine Pro research, which shows that the proportion of wine occasions involving food is now at 84%.

The Wine Society introduces Click & Collect

The Wine Society has introduced a Click & Collect service for its members.

Aston Manor launches Friels Vintage in mini-kegs

Aston Manor Cider is the latest producer to move into the popular sharing mini-keg format.

Marks & Spencer becomes most decorated supermarket at International Wine Challenge

Marks & Spencer was the most awarded retailer at the 2017 International Wine Challenge as it scooped 146 medals, including 12 golds.

Kingfisher Beer to distribute Cantonese Pearl River in UK

Kingfisher Beer Europe has revealed its latest distribution deal, which allows it to market and distribute the Cantonese beer Pearl River across the UK.

SITT founder Judy Kendrick lends expertise to event

SITT founder Judy Kendrick has re-joined the fold and will serve as brand ambassador for the tasting after it was purchased by OLN owner Agile Media.

Santa Rita secures Manny Doidge for new UK-focused role

Santa Rita Estates has created a new UK-focused role within its European team, which it says will “further reinforce” the commitment it has to the UK market.

Simpsons Wine Estate releases its first wine

Simpsons Wine Estate has released its first wine from its estate in Kent.

Moët Hennessy UK announces new managing director

Bertrand Steip is taking over as managing director of Moët Hennessy UK to replace the outgoing Jo Thornton.

Whyte & Mackay launches Shackleton blended malt whisky

Whyte & Mackay has brought out Shackleton, a blended malt Scotch whisky inspired by the eponymous British explorer.

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte appoints new managing director

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte has appointed Christophe Juarez as managing director, replacing the outgoing Julie Campos.

Asda on a mission to become UK's leading craft beer retailer

Asda has revealed ambitious plans to become the UK’s leading craft beer retailer after bolstering its range with more than 100 brews from across the world.

Hannah Tovey takes top job at London Wine Fair

Hannah Tovey is taking over as event director at the London Wine Fair after Ross Carter announced he was leaving the post to join Fresh Montgomery.

Berry Bros launches The Wine Merchant's range

Berry Bros & Rudd has revealed details of its new own label selection of wines.

Caorunn poised for wider off-trade push

Craft gin brand Caorunn is poised for a bigger off-trade push, following the news that it has secured widespread Tesco listings outside of its Scottish heartland as a result of strong consumer demand.

Viñalba to open pop-up wine shop

Argentinian wine brand Viñalba plans to open its own pop-up wine shop in Shoreditch later this year, as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations in October.

Copestick Murray expands I Heart brand

Copestick Murray is expanding its I Heart range with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a Mendoza Malbec and a Rioja.

St Austell's reports "record results" for 2016

St Austell’s Brewery in Cornwall has reported “record results for 2016” aided by the acquisition of Bath Ales last year.

The WSTA launches its General Election Manifesto

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has launched its manifesto ahead of the upcoming General Election on 8 June.

English wine: 2016 vintage is “high quality” despite volume drop

The volume of English wine produced last year dipped slightly in comparison to 2015, but 2016 has been declared “a high quality vintage”, according to the latest report.

Heineken acquires remaining stake in Lagunitas Brewing

Heineken International has bought full ownership of the Californian craft brewer Lagunitas Brewing Company.

The Vineyard Cellars takes on first Santa Barbara winery

Californian wine specialist, The Vineyard Cellars, is representing a winery from Santa Barbara for the first time.

BrewDog introduces LoneWolf spirits and mixers

BrewDog has expanded into the spirits market with the official launch of its LoneWolf brand.

Kingsland extends its fusion wine range

Kingsland Drinks has extended its confectionery-flavoured fusion wine brand by adding two new sparkling variants.

Berry Bros sells The Glenrothes to Edrington

Berry Bros & Rudd has announced it has sold The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt Scotch whisky to global premium spirits company, Edrington.

Les Vignobles Foncalieu launches Ensedune

Les Vignobles Foncalieu plans to launch “an original range breaking new ground in the Languedoc”.

Taittinger plants first vines for English sparkling wine

Champagne Taittinger has made English sparkling wine history by planting its first vines in its English vineyard in Kent.

2012 shaping up to be a classic year for Brunello

A leading Brunello producer says the 2012 vintage is so good that it has made a mockery of the trend that has seen years ending in an even number produce lesser quality wines.

Brooklyn launches Scorcher IPA

Brooklyn Brewery’s has chosen the UK as the international market to debut its Scorcher IPA, a 4.5% abv brew made with Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade and Bravo hops.

Star names launch coconut rum

Heather Graham and Guy Ritchie have launched a coconut-flavoured rum, but these are drinks industry stars rather than Hollywood icons.

Halewood adds new wines from Rioja

Rioja brand, Marques de Caceres, has released a series of new vintages, which will be available to the UK market via is Halewood Wines & Spirits.

Brockmans gin gains traction in UK market

Brockmans gin saw UK sales grow 245% in 2016 after it gained listings with Marks & Spencer and Harvey Nicholls, among others.

Elements Eight rum adds premium aged variant

Elements Eight, the independent craft rum brand, has a new addition to the range.

Thornbridge and Waitrose relaunch home brew challenge

Thornbridge Brewery has resurrected its partnership with Waitrose and Brew UK to launch The Great British Home Brew Challenge for 2017.

Bullards blends strawberry and pepper to create new gin

Norwich’s only gin producer has unveiled its latest variant, a unique combination of strawberry and black pepper.

Entrepreneur launches UK's first golf and wine estate

Mannings Heath Golf Club & Wine Estate has begun planting 38,000 vines to create England’s newest vineyard, with wines expected to be available in 2023.

Waitrose boosts craft beer line up

Waitrose is gearing up to add 27 new craft beers to its range, with the new additions set to go on shelf from 1 May.

Brookfield aims to fizz up UK cider market with Finnish brand

The team that rejuvenated Kestrel lager and Diamond cider is now targeting UK retailers with a Finnish cider called Fizz.

Beer Hawk appoints head of trade

Leading online craft beer retailer Beer Hawk has appointed Russell Clarke to head up efforts to boost sales to the trade.

John Timothy appointed chief executive at the Portman Group

John Timothy has taken over as chief executive at the Portman Group after a decade in senior public affairs roles at Tesco.