Vindependents aims for 50-member mark

Vindependents has taken on an “enormous” number of new producers over the past few months and the team is to tour the UK to sign up more independents to reach its goal of 50 members.

The buying group was set up in 2015 with the aim of increasing members’ sourcing power in wine and sharing best practice. It has since gone from the 17 founder members to more than 30.

Managing director Jessica Hutchinson told DRN: “We have taken on a lot of new producers, particularly from Bordeaux, Rhône, Burgundy and Spain. All are exclusive to us in the UK, giving our independent wine merchant members wines that won’t be found elsewhere in their local areas. 

“We listened to what our member customers wanted and they said they were struggling to find a good range of wines from the Rhône and we didn’t have any, so that was a real focus for us over the past few weeks. And we have taken on producers from all of the key areas such as Cornas, Condrieu, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Lirac, It takes a lot of research and a lot of hours searching for these.

“We have just picked up a couple of new Burgundy and Bordeaux ones as well, including three Cru Bourgeois, and they are 100% exclusive to us in the UK. We were looking for one or two but we are really happy with the three we found, and they all offer points of difference.”

Hutchinson said that Vindependents now has a good Old World wine portfolio and its next target area is likely to be Chile. 

She added: “Burgundy is one region that works really well for us, and probably second to that at the moment is Australia. We ship wines over every eight to 12 weeks so people can order smaller amounts more regularly. It’s something we hope to replicate with Chile.”

She added: “We work with a lot of smaller producers who supply all of our wines, so if we grew too quickly then they might have trouble supplying us. The way we work needs to keep up with demand. Saying that, we generally only work with producers who understand that as demand grows they can increase the supply. 

“So, for example, we have a producer in Chablis and he started off supplying us with 1,200 bottles and, as demand has grown, he has increased this to 25,000 bottles. We are his only customer in the UK.

“We are in a good place now so we will be aiming to reach our target of 50 independent wine merchant members by the end of the year.”

Vindependents will hold tastings in Birmingham in March and in London in October. In between these the team will set off on the company’s first Roadshow event, in a bid to find new members. 

It has recently added spirits and has plans to launch its own gin in the first half of this year. It will also bring in a range of Armagnacs and hopes to add rum to the mix.

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