We live in an era in which the availability and choice of wine throughout the world has never been greater. Yet, in today’s challenging global economy, the phrase ‘ to make a small fortune with wine you must start with a large one’ is more relevant than ever.
Hopefully the tasting, selection, commercial and presentation skills I have developed over the last 30 years can help you, or your business, navigate a way through the wonderful world of wine.
As a graduate in Biochemistry, I stumbled into the wine industry purely by chance and have never regretted a single minute of my subsequent career.
20 years later, having passed my Master of Wine exams in ’93 (winning the Safeway Award for Marketing) and enjoyed a series of senior roles within Diageo, I became the MD of South Africa’s first publicly quoted wine company and was subsequently integrally involved in the establishment of the Spier wine group in Stellenbosch. As European Managing Director of this business, I was integrally involved in returning this business to profitability before electing to ‘go it alone’ in 2003.
Since then, I have moved from the corporate world to a genuinely entrepreneurial role, working as a consultant for the on-trade (currently advising on over 1000 UK restaurant wine lists), working directly with numerous European importers and providing support to wineries, including one of New Zealand’s most important wine operations. I addition, I have an agency business trading wine throughout Europe and was a partner in Jamaica’s first specialist wine importer, representing the likes of Gaja & Chapoutier (working with private clients and the high end independent on-trade) a business we recently sold. I am also a Wine & Spirit Education Trust approved program provider and was responsible for setting up the first Russian WSET school in St Petersburg using local tutors and with Russian text.
My varied career has given me first-hand experience of most aspects of the wine trade, and has also had me visit every single drinking establishment in South Africa and also had me leave a particular country following death threats.
I am definitely getting old – but did successfully complete the London triathlon a few weeks ago – play golf badly and ensure that everything I do is wrapped in a cloak of good humour.