Grapes at Domaine Leduc-Frouin

ripening grapes in the Loire

ripening grapes in the Loire




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The dream of becoming a wine merchant?!

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Over the last few weeks we’ve had a number of enquiries from people who fancy the idea of trying to make a living from selling French wine in the UK. It sounds seductive, working with something that you enjoy, and it cannot be difficult to do something better than the supermarkets and most of the major off-licence chains manage, particularly in relation to French wines.
Perhaps we are not the best people to ask, as although our company ALLEZ VINS! gained a good reputation for importing some great lesser-known wines from France, ultimately we gave up – some health problems exacerbated by meagre profits and too much time and money spent on the less glamorous aspects of running a business – VAT, excise duty, warehousing, transport. licensing laws etc. But we cannot deny we thoroughly enjoyed both the buying side (plenty of excuses for visits to France and to trade tastings) – and on the selling side it was always good to meet and chat with enthusiasts for French wine and things French. We met some great people – both winemakers and customers who enriched our lives – we learned more than we would otherwise have done about the French and France – most of it good!
The key challenge is to source good, interesting and individual wines and then find ways of marketing them to customers who are looking for wines of character and style rather than the often bland brands which are generally and easily available. I personally also believe that the best way to survive in the UK market is to specialise – be knowledgeable about your wines, the winemaker and domaine – rather than try to be all things to all wine-drinkers. Making that connection between the winemaker and the drinker can be really important and rewarding.

I would wish anyone who wants to have a go “the best of luck”, and will gladly offer advice from our experience of 18 years in the business. Just be wary though – how many wealthy (or healthy) wine merchants do you know? And beware of the trade joke “What does a wine merchant do if he wins the lottery? – he stays in business for a few more years!”

We try through our website to support good French wine merchants and winemakers by providing some information on their lists etc. – warch out for some new articles and names over the coming weeks.
Amongst our current favourites are:

Leon Stolarski Fine Wines (www.lsfinewines.co.uk)
Dorjes Wine Club (www.dorjes.co.uk)
Advintage Wines (www.advintage-wines.co.uk)
Nick Dobson Wines (www.nickdobsonwines.co.uk)
Devigne Wines (www.devignewines.co.uk)

For more on France, French Wine, Food & Travel try our SEARCH feature
Also see our calendar of events in France

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