Top 100 Most Influential People in Wine 2018

18 May, 2018

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

It comes immediately after the face of the industry was irrevocably changed following the swift collapse of Conviviality and the scramble to shore up the supply chain. We have analysed who is doing the most to shape the nation’s wine-drinking decisions in this interesting new landscape.

Size matters – the amount of wine somebody sells, the number of stores they buy for or the number of readers their column reaches – but it is by no means the be-all and end-all. We have taken into account the circles in which they move, the ears they can bend and we have tried to celebrate longevity. If you are in charge of the wine category at a large retailer, but only for a short while, it is harder to affect wine-drinking habits than if you are in the trade for the long haul.

This list shows that the UK wine industry is in great hands, because it is teeming with flair, dynamism and diligence, and it shows the trade is well equipped to deal with the various challenges on the horizon. As always, it is sure to spark fierce debate, but we hope you find it a pleasurable read.

1 Pierpaolo Petrassi MW 

Head of wine buying, waitrose

Petrassi is now into his ninth year at the helm of Waitrose’s wine department and his time there has deservedly been defined by critical and commercial success. He presides over the most exciting wine range of any UK multiple retailer and it has regularly been showered with praise, awards and attention. The upmarket supermarket massively overtrades in wine compared to its share of the grocery market, and that is not simply down to the demographic it attracts. His team, which is packed with Masters of Wine and experienced, respected buyers, has put together a fantastic range, underpinned by excellent merchandising and thoughtful category management that has clearly driven excitement among shoppers. 

Petrassi and his team are not beholden to quarterly reports to the City, so they are able to make bold, generational decisions designed to shape the nation’s wine-drinking habits. They are able to be a little more obstinate than some of their peers in championing the drinks they truly believe in. The industry’s favourite phrase nowadays is consumers are drinking less but better” – and this should be the trade’s Holy Grail, because it champions responsibility but preserves value sales – and Waitrose is an excellent embodiment of that. Petrassi has worked hard to make shoppers respectful of their consumption, and they are encouraged to drink something amazing rather than sinking multiple bottles of cheap plonk. 

Independent wine retailers pay more attention to developments at Waitrose than any other supermarket, because it is a genuine rival when it comes to attracting affluent, educated consumers. It has more in-store BWS experts than it has stores, and they are able to hand-sell to shoppers and extol the virtues of various wines. Waitrose is trailblazing in its buying decisions, and they often filter down to other multiples. And it is one of the most popular retailers among the UK’s wine writers and broadcasters, whose collective influence is vast. The Waitrose press tasting is typically packed to the rafters and the tasters usually seem impressed, which is not always the case at these events. Petrassi is one of only a few hundred Masters of Wine in the world, part of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association board, a mentor to many talented members of the trade and a deeply respected figure in the industry.

2 Mike James

Wine buying director, Aldi

The Aldi wine supremo continues to impress with his astute buying choices, which have reeled in the middle classes, delighted bargain hunters and gone down well with an assortment of wine writers and competition judges. Aldi’s success could be credited with inspiring the range rationalisation that gripped the multiples a couple of years ago, and some supermarkets are still playing catch-up. The lean but intriguing range that James and his team have put together makes shopping for wine easy but pleasurable. They are not resting on their laurels and frequently champion innovation and try to push boundaries, within the limitations around shelf space and price points. James has just endured his toughest year as a buyer as he battled to source great wines at wallet-friendly prices amid the smallest global harvest since 1957. But he was able to rely on long-standing partnerships he has forged with producers across the globe to ensure he hit his targets. He is an inspirational figure, and dozens of budding buyers were enraptured as he spoke passionately and entertainingly about his journey to the top of the wine trade at a recent WSET talk entitled “So you want to be a buyer?”. He highlighted the need for hard work, confidence, agility, creativity and passion, and he displays them all in abundance.

3 Miles Beale

Chief executive, Wine & Spirit Trade Association

Beale continues to bolster his reputation as a sharp and eloquent lobbyist who fights for the industry on multiple fronts. His team at the WSTA had cause for celebration this year after a duty freeze on wine was announced in the November Budget. Beale had campaigned long and hard for a tax break. Brexit continues to dominate the headlines and Beale is at the forefront of the trade’s bid to secure a comprehensive trade agreement and find a solution that enables it to continue doing business after the UK leaves the EU. He recently took Boris Johnson on a tour of Gallo’s EMEA headquarters in Uxbridge, impressing on the Foreign Secretary that the UK is an international hub for the wine industry, explaining that wine boosts the economy and supports hundreds of thousands of British jobs and highlighting the importance of maintaining existing European trade flows. His role will be crucial as the trade battles for a fair deal in the next Budget and tries to keep the chaos of Brexit to a minimum.

4 Rowan Gormley

Chief executive, Majestic Wine

The charismatic entrepreneur is starting to enjoy success in his bid to turn around Majestic Wine’s ailing fortunes and the City has reacted positively to recent developments. When the retailer’s impressive upward march hit the buffers, its board performed a takeover of Naked Wines and installed Gormley, its founder, as the boss of the overall group. Naked had been a star performer in the ecommerce and direct mail industry and it continues to thrive as he bids to concurrently weave his magic on the Majestic bricks-and-mortar estate. A strategy to grow customers numbers as opposed to store numbers is sensible, and Gormley is not rushing things, displaying the sort of caution and prudence that Conviviality lacked as it veered ahead on the expansion trail. The Majestic group remains on course to hit a £500 million sales target by 2019, and recent initiatives such as a franchise-lite model and WIGIG parcels are designed to improve the customer experience, aid staff retention and ultimately boost profits. Recent trends prove there is still a role for specialist wine merchants across the UK and, under Gormley’s stewardship, Majestic looks well placed to thrive.

5 Ade McKeon

UK General Manager, Accolade Wines

Last month’s sale of Accolade by Champ and Constellation to the investment group Carlyle was something of sideshow to the shenanigans at Conviviality as far as the UK trade was concerned, but the £422 million price tag is an indication that it would have received considerably more attention in quieter times. Mckeon joined Accolade just over a year ago, having built his reputation in retail, most notably as Asda’s BWS category director, before moving up to become the chain’s overall brand director. He presides over an increasingly weighty New World portfolio in his Accolade role. The company’s Mud House brand from New Zealand has edged into the ranks of the UK’s best-selling wine brands to join a list of big-hitters that includes the top two selling wines in the UK, Hardys and Echo Falls, in addition to South Africa’s Kumala and Australia’s Banrock Station.

6 Rob Cooke

BWS Director, Tesco

Tesco’s volume clout in the marketplace has been unrivalled for many years, but the boardroom turmoil of a few years ago and the rising challenge of the discounters – most notably Aldi – did cause a few chinks to appear in the armour for a while. The protracted merger with Booker, however, has only served to reinforce its commercial power, bringing influence over wine in the independent convenience store and food service sectors to go with its established presence in multiple grocery. Cooke started the millennium at Woolworths before becoming head of buying at Sainsbury’s, making the switch to Tesco in 2013. He moved from his role as commercial strategy and development director to become the chain’s BWS boss last summer after the somewhat surprising departure of Tesco mainstay Gavin Warburton. He inherits an experienced wine team at an important crossroads in the Tesco story.

7 Simon Cairns

BWS Category Trading Manager, The Co-op

Since Cairns took the top drinks job at the Co-op in 2014, the chain has enjoyed a much-elevated profile in the wine category, befitting a retail business that employs more than 70,000 people and operates getting on for 4,000 stores. Before joining the Co-op, Cairns was a wine buyer for both Morrisons and Spar, giving him an appreciation of the intricacies of the trading issues that are particular to both large and small-format grocery retailing. His mission in the past year has been to push the boundaries at the edges of the Co-op wine range, with small packs especially to the fore, giving the range a feel that more robustly reflects the convenience nature of the business. A plan to increase the Co-op’s representation of vegan wines indicates his attention to detail in responding to current consumer trends. 

8 Dan Jago

Chief executive, Berry Bros & Rudd

With a royal wedding and Brexit both heading our way, the topical affairs of the next 12 months will have plenty of relevance to Jago’s two main industry roles, as head of the wine merchant to the royal family and as chairman of the trade’s primary lobbying group, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association. As the former group wine director at Tesco, Jago’s all-round industry experience and breadth of knowledge is hard to rival and his commentary on industry issues is keenly observed by his peers. In retail, Berry Bros’ biggest move of the past year was the unveiling of its posh new superstore at 63 Pall Mall in London – a modern update for a business that’s been around since 1698. As a one-time joint managing director of Bibendum, Jago will have been looking on at the recent Conviviality debacle with considerable interest and publicly-acknowledged its former boss Diana Hunter as “a force for good” within the WSTA.

9 Simon Doyle

UK General manager, Concha y Toro

Doyle chalks up 17 years at the UK arm of the Chilean wine producer this May, having previously spent seven years at Southcorp, one of the many constituent parts that would eventually form Treasury Wine Estates. During Doyle’s time with CyT – first as sales director and then commercial director – it has risen steadily up the league table of wine suppliers to the UK market, with the Argentinian brand Trivento adding an extra dimension to a Chilean portfolio in which Casillero del Diablo and Isla Negra are the star commercial performers. The past 12 months have seen Casillero get a makeover and the addition of the premium tier Reserva Especial to reinforce the company’s ability to pitch a portfolio sell. In a year when buyers’ eyes are increasingly focused outside Europe, Doyle’s CyT is in a strong position to strengthen its hand in the market still further.

10 Tom King

Europe managing director, Treasury Wine Estates

King was thrust into the hot seat at TWE to replace the late Dan Townsend just over a year ago, taking the helm of a company whose Blossom Hill Californian range is one of the top three wine brands in the UK. King is no stranger to blockbuster drinks brands. His five years with TWE was preceded by seven at Bacardi, where he specialised in travel retail, a focus he continued in his initial TWE role. His first 12 months have seen TWE take the eye-catching move of launching a pan-regional French wine range under the name Maison de Grand Esprit, and introduce a bit of Gallic influence to the Blossom Hill range with the addition of a Provence-style rosé. King has continued to support the rest of the portfolio with marketing investment, most notably behind the Australian brand Wolf Blass and Rugby Union’s Six Nations. 

11 Jancis Robinson MW

Author, broadcaster

The public profile of the UK’s most respected wine communicator moved up a few notches last year when she joined ITV’s The Wine Show. Her Oxford Companion to Wine is widely regarded as the bible-cum-Encyclopedia Britannica of the industry and her website is an authoritative source on all things wine-related. Robinson writes a regular column for the FT, advises the Queen on the contents of her cellar and was voted the wine writer whose views are most likely to have a positive impact on sales, in a poll of retailers for DRN earlier this year.

12 Robin Copestick

Managing director, Copestick Murray

These are exciting times for the company that Copestick founded with Paul Murray in 2005. The supplier’s I Heart range has edged into the top 20 wine brands in UK retailers and, with the backing of German fizz producer Henkell – which bought Copestick Murray in 2016 – it moved into acquisition mode last year. It took a 40% stake in online retailer Slurp and followed up with the purchase of French supplier Free Run Wines. With Follador and Mionetto in its portfolio, the company is a major player in the burgeoning Prosecco market.

13 Elizabeth Newman 

BWS category manager, Sainsbury's

Supermarket wine departments often have the criticism levelled at them that the person who’s buying wine this week was doing loo roll or baked beans – and it is always loo roll or baked beans – the week before. That’s not the case at Sainsbury’s, however, where Newman has brought some consistency to its approach with five years in BWS and three in the top post. Last year saw a 26% surge in sales of the chain’s Taste the Difference wines and it took wine outside of the supermarket walls with a pop-up festive fizz bar in central London in the run-up to Christmas.

14 Troy Christensen

Chief executive, Enotria & Coe

The former Accolade Wines boss has chalked up four years at the wine and spirits supplier Enotria & Coe, during which time it seems to have found an extra gear in terms of market presence. Christensen had put the focus on premium producers, aimed at providing Enotria’s retail accounts with opportunities to give their ranges interesting points of difference. Throughout his wine trade career, Christensen has been a vocal commentator on broader industry topics and his opinions on issues and trends are still carefully noted by competitors. 

15 John Morris

Head of wine trading, Morrisons

Morrisons may have been knocked off its perch as the International Wine Challenge supermarket of the year in 2017, after two successive wins, but it remains up there among the best multiples when it comes to quality of wine versus value for money. It still managed to pick up 61 medals for is own-label wine range at last year’s IWC, five of them golds. Morris has just been promoted from senior buying manager for beer, cider and tobacco and has been with the retailer since 1998. 

16 David Thatcher

Group chief executive, Direct Wines

The company behind Laithwaites and Avery’s was a pioneer in the direct selling of wine to members of the public and bypassing traditional retail outlets. The internet age has seen other powerful operators enter that space but the company has adapted well to the age of modern technology to remain one of the leading players in the sector. Thatcher joined Laithwaites as managing director in 2014 before moving to the top group job less than a year later. He is a former head of both phone company Talk Talk and the Freeview-plus telly provider Top Up TV.

17 Laura Jewell MW

UK director, Wine Australia

Ever since Australia’s rise to the top of the off-trade wine sales charts in the UK in the late 1980s, the job of heading its industry marketing push has been the most prestigious of all the generic agency roles. Jewell is an MW of more than two decades, who brought an impressive CV to the role when she took it on 2015 after leaving Tesco, her previous experience taking in stints at Sainsbury’s and Spar, and the on-trade wholesaler Waverley Vintners before it was subsumed into Matthew Clark. Last year’s Alternative Varieties tasting reflected her desire to talk up Australia’s quality and diversity.

18 Chris Ellis

Commercial director, Pernod Ricard UK

Pernod Ricard may be best known for its big-hitting global spirits portfolio that includes the likes of Absolut, Jameson and Malibu, but in the UK off-trade it’s highest-grossing brands are all wines: Jacob’s Creek, Campo Viejo and Brancott Estate. All three reside in the top 100 take-home drinks brands of any type and Ellis is the person with his hand on the tiller of their fortunes. He was off-trade sales director for Holsten beer way back but has now been with Pernod Ricard for 14 years and has overseen the wine brief since 2012. 

19 Drew Tiffin

BWS Category director, Asda

Asda has arguably suffered more than any other multiple from the rise of Aldi in the wine category, but its fightback began in earnest with the arrival of Tiffin into the top BWS job two years ago. His mission to overhaul the drinks offering came to fruition last year with a plan to remove duplication and introduce more genuine choice to the range, resulting in a cull of some 200 wines, representing around a quarter of the Asda portfolio. Tiffin had a three-year spell as BWS buying manager between 2008 and 2011 before returning to the department in his current role.

20 Paul Sorrentino

Europe general manager, Gallo

Sorrentino has been with the American wine producer for almost a decade and moved to the UK to oversee its Europe, Middle East and Africa operations early last year. In the process he assumed responsibility for the flagship Gallo wines and sister brand Barefoot, the rising star that has now become one of the top five wine brands in the UK off-trade. Sorrentino’s impact was immediate, with the past year seeing a revamp for the Gallo range and the launch of a host of premium wines from vineyards across California as Gallo seeks to establish itself as a credible player at the top end, not just a strong commercial player in the mainstream.

21 Jay Wright

Chief executive, Virgin Wines

In the five years since Wright led a management buyout of Virgin Wines with finance chief Graeme Weir, it’s become one of the most dynamic retailers in the digital space. Wright set up his own Warehouse Wine Co business in 2000 before rolling it into Virgin Wines after succeeding its founder, Rowan Gormley, at the company’s helm in 2008. Since the MBO, Virgin has turned in consistently impressive results, building customer numbers, sales and profits, and introducing innovative features to its ecommerce platform on a regular basis. More than half of the 22,000 customers recruited in the run-up to last Christmas joined its Wine Bank scheme, for example.

22 Joe Fattorini

Broadcaster

Best known as the anchor of ITV’s The Wine Show, Fattorini is something of a wine trade polymath, with a CV that combines writing, broadcasting and talking about the stuff with considerable experience of selling and marketing it, giving him an understanding of the mundane, but nonetheless important, nuts and bolts of the industry, not just how wine’s made and what it tastes like. He’s an Ironman triathlon competitor – a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles by bike and a marathon run – and owns a dachshund that speaks Swedish, according to his website biog. Fattorini has scooped the IWSC Communicator of the Year and IWC Personality of the Year awards in the past year.

23 Andy Sagar

Managing director, Kingsland

It’s 14 years since Manchester City fan Sagar led a management buyout of Kingsland with Mark Dixon, Karen Wilson and Michael Forde, who all remain on the board to this day. Based on a site that was first used as a wine and spirits depot by the Co-op in the 1950s, Kingsland is one of the pioneers of screwcaps in the UK, helping to transform the way wine has been enjoyed by consumers for a generation. Acquisitions of Stratford Wines in 2012 and Bottle Green in 2015 helped the company position itself as more than just an own-label specialist with a complete vine-to-wine remit across wine sourcing, production, sales, marketing and distribution.

24 Dennis Whiteley

Managing director, Boutinot

Stockport was an unlikely location to sow the seeds for one of the UK’s biggest wine firms, but that’s where founder Paul Boutinot first set up the business that still carries his name back in 1980. It emerged as a red-hot French wine importer but widened its net and now also makes wine in Italy, South Africa and, since last year, England with the purchase of Henners Vineyard in Sussex. Whiteley has been with the firm since the 1990s and led a management buyout in 2013. The five years since have seen it cement its position as one of the UK’s foremost wine importers, equally at home in the mainstream world of supermarkets and the top-end territory covered by independents.

25 Ian Harris

Chief executive, WSET

Harris was awarded the MBE in the 2018 New Year’s honours list, recognition for his own contribution to the wine industry for more than 40 years and the WSET’s undoubted role in raising professional standards in wine, both in the UK and overseas. Annual numbers taking its qualifications have grown from 10,000 to 85,000 since he joined in 2002, having previously been commercial director at Seagram in the UK. Its acquisition and break-up by Diageo and Pernod Ricard found Harris in the right place at the right time to take the vacant WSET role, which he now describes as his “dream job”.

26 Patrick McGrath MW

Managing director, Hatch Mansfield

The erosion of the multiple specialist wine retailing sector has all but wiped out one traditional trade career path. It was the one taken by McGrath, who joined Victoria Wine for six months in its shops in 1983 before moving into its buying team, going on to head marketing for Mentzendorff and running the Bollinger Champagne brand in the UK. He became Hatch Mansfield boss in 1994, a year after successfully passing the MW exam, and now heads an agency firm with an illustrious roster. New Zealand’s Villa Maria is its biggest seller, with Taittinger, Louis Jadot, Errazuriz and Kleine Zalze among a star-studded supporting cast.

27 Andrew Shaw

Group wine buying director, Matthew Clark / Bibendum

The spectacular collapse of Conviviality was irrefutably the biggest wine trade story of the past year and one that leaves a lot of people still wondering how their futures might pan put. For now, Shaw remains the key wine person in the supply side set-up after Clark and Bibendum were rescued by the combined forces of Magners cider maker C&C Group and Stella Artois brewer AB-Inbev. Shaw became Bibendum’s buying director in the pre-Conviviality days of 2012 after five years of buying wine for Waitrose.

28 Ed Evans

Head of BWS, Spar

The long-term detail of the Tesco-Booker merger could yet change things but, for the time being, Spar can stake a legitimate claim to be the most important player in the convenience retailing wine market, with more than 2,400 stores operating under the fascia, turning over more than £3 billion. Several high flyers in UK retail wine buying cut their teeth in Spar’s BWS department, but Evans already had an abundant CV when he took the main job at the start of last year. He was group wine buyer in the last knockings of First Quench, after which he had a long stretch in buying for travel retail group Nuance. 

29 Julian Dyer

UK General manager, Australian Vintage

Dyer’s role covers Europe as well as the UK for the specialist Aussie wine supplier whose flagship label, McGuigan, is a top-five brand in the off-trade, according to latest Nielsen figures. Dyer’s spell at Australian Vintage, which he joined as senior business manager in 2012, now exceeds his five-plus years as senior wine buyer at Sainsbury’s, which set him up with an understanding of trading issues on both sides of the supplier-retailer relationship. 

30 Ana Sapungiu MW

Wine buyer, Oddbins

Sapungiu took an unorthodox route into wine, importing a pallet from her native Romania and selling it door-to-door to wholesalers as part of a project while studying for an MBA in London. She later joined Oddbins through its management training programme, working her way into the buying team after a spell working at store level. Under managing director Ayo Akintola she has been given freedom to explore the wine world’s outer reaches and seek out unusual stuff from classic regions, bringing back the energy and excitement that are hallmarks of the Oddbins range. 

31 David Gleave MW

Managing director, Liberty

It’s more than 20 years since Gleave founded Liberty with a list of 40 producers, more than half them from Italy. Though the company was typecast as an Italian specialist in its early years, it’s gone on to become one of the UK’s leading agency all-rounders, with a portfolio of more than 250 producers and a customer base of independents across the on and off-trades who share its own ethos. Recent months have seen it add New Zealand’s Framingham to its roster and make a first foray into saké.

32 Victoria Anderson

Wine buyer, Booths

Booths is regularly pinpointed by industry watchers as north west England’s very own micro version of Waitrose and its wine range has historically reflected the tastes of a traditional wine-drinking customer base. Anderson has sought to challenge that hierarchy, bringing the chain’s wine aisle into the 21st century by introducing New World wines – principally from New Zealand and South Africa – into its own-label range last year. The move builds on steadily growing Old World, private-label wine sales for the chain in recent years.

33 Hugh Sturges

Managing director, Jeroboams

Jeroboams triumphed as the best small wine shop chain in our own Drinks Retailing Awards in February after a year of transformation in which Sturges oversaw a refurbishment programme across its entire estate, with a modern look and new features including tasting and fine wine rooms. The group has already secured the first of two target sites for new stores in 2018 as it seeks to cement its identity as the go-to neighbourhood wine retailer in the more well-heeled areas of central and west London. Sturges joined Jeroboams in 2015 after nine years as managing director of Berry Bros & Rudd.

34 Mark Lansley

Chief executive, Broadland Wineries

Lansley took back the reins at the Norwich-based wine supplier at the start of the year after the short-lived stewardship of former Accolade boss Paul Schaafsma. The change of plan forced Lansley to roll back on previously outlined ambitious growth targets, though elements of the strategy remain, principally building the branded wine side of a business which has its roots in own-label and contract bottling. Wine director Arabella Woodrow MW, formerly a buyer for the Co-op and Morrisons, will have a key role in helping Broadland – the turnover of which has grown from £8 million to £60 million in a decade – achieve that aim.

35 Steve Moody

Managing director, Fells

The recent decision by Australian wine brand Brown Brothers to exit what it called an unforgiving” UK market was a blow to Fells but it was more than offset by the announcement that Yalumba’s wines were being taken on by the agency firm. In Torres Fells also has a wine brand that DRN sister publication Drinks International crowned the most admired in the world after a global industry poll. The line-up is teeming with other famous names such as the Symington ports, Rhône producer Guigal, Tyrrell’s of Australia, Tuscany’s Ricasoli, Bouchard of Burgundy and Janneau Armagnac, putting it on the radar of any serious wine merchant. 

36 Andrew Bewes

Managing director, Hallgarten & Novum

After building an impressive CV with Berkmann and Liberty, Bewes became Hallgarten’s boss in 2009, since which time it has considerably raised both its trade profile and commercial clout, with turnover passing the £50 million mark for the first time in its 85-year existence last year. With the legendary former Oddbins buyer Steve Daniel hands-on in sourcing for the group, Hallgarten under Bewes has earned a burgeoning reputation for a credible wine portfolio that helps some of the best independent operators add genuine points of difference and value to their ranges.

37 Mark Roberts

UK Head of sales, Lanchester

Roberts has emerged as the trade-issue spokesperson of the company founded by managing director Tony Cleary in 1980. He has helped to raise the profile of the Lanchester business, which includes one of the UK’s leading bulk wine shipping operations, the Greencroft bottling plant, a wine gifts and accessories division, a stake in the Wine Fusion agency company, the Bon Bon’s confectionery wholesaler and The Pip Stop wine shop. Roberts joined Lanchester five years ago from Spanish specialist United Wineries.

38 Mark Kears

UK managing director, Les Grands Chais de France

In the relatively unbranded world of French wine, Les Grands Chais has in Calvet one of the few ranges to feature in the UK’s best-selling wine charts, its annual sales somewhere on a par with Brewdog beers and Lambrini. After 18 years fronting Les Grands Chais’ UK affairs, Tim North was a tough act to follow when Kears took on the role in 2016. But with a CV that features Anheuser-Busch, Bulmers and Treasury Wine Estates he is well-placed to drive the French producer’s brands into growth in a New World-dominated branded wine sector.

39 Andrew Hawes

Managing director, Mentzendorff

This year marks the 160th anniversary of Ludwig Mentzendorff writing to Bollinger to ask to be the Champagne producer’s agent for the English market. Nineteenth-century communications being what they were it wasn’t until 159 years ago that the offer was accepted. The company that bears Mentzendorff’s name still represents the Champagne house to this day, forming an anchor pair of prestigious distributorships, along with Taylor’s port. The portfolio is augmented by other famous names including Chapoutier and Klein Constantia. Hawes is chair of the UK Champagne Agents Association and on the board of trustees of trade charity The Benevolent.

40 Paul Letheren

Managing director, Off-Piste Wines

Can it really be 11 years since Letheren and fellow Western Wines executive Anthony Fairbank ventured forth on their own to establish Off-Piste Wines? The early years saw the company help Yellow Tail secure a foothold in the UK. Since then Off-Piste has created brands of its own, becoming one of the UK’s most innovative wine importers, with a portfolio that’s considerably longer than your arm and, as the name suggests, built on outside-the-box thinking and doing things just a bit differently. But in the company’s own words, they’re wines that everyday people can drink every day” rather than leftfield for leftfield’s sake. Off-Piste has quickly become a favourite supplier for many high street retail wine buyers.

41 Matthew Jukes

Wine writer

With the Daily Mail’s daily circulation at 1.4 million readers, Jukes’ position as the weekly wine columnist for its Weekend magazine for the past 18 years makes him one of the most widely-read in the business. It’s no surprise, then, that DRN retailer readers rate him as one of the wine journos whose opinions are most likely to have a positive impact on their sales. His annual 100 Best Australian Wines selection gives him particular influence in the fortunes of that country’s most important producers. Jukes began his career in wine serving in the Barnes Wine Shop in west London 30 years ago.

42 JUustin Knock MW

UK Director, California Wine Institute

The one-time Australian winemaker and Treasury Wines Estates buying manager may have more time management issues than many on our list, combining the generic marketing role for California in the UK with being co-owner of leading independent Philglas & Swiggot. Both roles are handled in conjunction with business partner Damien Jackman. Knock has been an MW since 2010 and its his specialist knowledge in wine’s making and marketing that gets him the nod here. Eighteen months into the California gig, Knock and Jackman’s impact on the state’s UK profile is increasingly being felt.

43 FERGAL TYNAN MW

Chief executive, Alliance Wine

Tynan has headed the wine importer, distributor and producer founded by Christian Bouteiller and Jonathan Kennett in 1984 for the past six years, having joined as its development director in 2009. The company started out life in Scotland and still has its headquarters in Ayrshire, but now also has offices in London and Adelaide, providing UK retailers with access to some 1,000 wines from 16 countries, with Tynan – an MW since 2015 – taking a lead role in Alliance’s winemaking projects around the world.

44 Bertrand Steip

Managing director, Moët Hennessy UK

The rise of Prosecco has made times tough for Champagne producers in the off-trade but the biggest supplier to the UK still has Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot in the BWS category’s best-sellers list, in addition to Dom Perignon, Ruinart and Krug, which hold their own at the upper end of the luxury fizz market. Steip took the top job at the producer’s UK arm a year ago, the latest in a string of key management positions across the LVMH wine business. Iconic still wine labels such as Cloudy Bay, Château Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem also come under his remit in a prestigious portfolio.

45 Oz Clarke

Writer and broadcaster

Puccini, Elvis Presley and the crowd at Cardiff Arms Park all featured when Clarke appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1999. He got the invite as one of the UK’s most recognisable wine experts – appearing on numerous TV programmes and turning out books by the dozen – and told Sue Lawley how he first got the taste for the subject at the age of three from drinking his mother’s damson wine. His countless list of gongs includes our own Drinks Retailing Awards Lifetime Achievement in 2015, when he received one of the most rapturous ovations the event has ever witnessed.

46 Simon Lawson

General manager, Casella

Yellow Tail is the flagship brand of what claims to be Australia’s largest remaining family-owned wine company, and under Lawson’s direction it is pushing hard for a place in the top 10 wine brands in the UK off-trade. Lawson is no stranger to the Most Influential ranks, having featured when he was managing director of Diageo subsidiary Percy Fox. Casella appointed Fox to represent Yellow Tail in the UK in 2010 and Lawson went with the brand when the agency company was sold in 2016 and Casella set up its own in-house distribution operation.

47 Dror Nativ

BWS Trading manager, Marks & Spencer

Some 60% of the famous clothing retailer’s revenue is, in fact, now generated by food and drink. With sales from that side of the business alone worth £5.6 billion, and with more than 1,000 stores in the UK, M&S is a considerable force in the wine sector. It has slowed its Simply Food store expansion plan but the sub-brand is still an increasingly familiar site at transport hubs, on high streets and in service stations across the country. Its wine team has a reputation for putting wines of great quality and value on the shelves and Nativ has headed the team since the start of the year. He joined M&S as a wine buyer in 2013 after holding similar positions with Spar and Sainsbury’s. 

48 Bernard Fontannaz

Managing director, Origin Wines

The Origin Wines founder hit the public eye in 2012 after an argument with neighbour and professional atheist Richard Dawkins about how best to handle the local pigeon population, but to the wine trade he’s best known as its Mr Fairtrade. His company is at the forefront of that market, both in the UK and internationally, supplying its popular Fairhills and Stormhoek brands and doing a brisk trade in private-label with some of the leading multiple retailers. He’s also an advocate of the industry moving into craft-style and other packaging innovations to broaden its appeal among younger adult consumers.

49 Jane MacQuitty

Wine writer

MacQuitty’s role as The Times’ wine correspondent spans four decades, so it’s little surprise DRN readers see her as one of the writers who is most likely to give wine sales a lift. MacQuitty entered publishing with House & Garden before moving to edit the Which? Wine Guide. She is the author of the Pocket Guide to Champagne & Sparkling Wines and the Pocket Guide to Australian & New Zealand Wines.

50 Matthew Hennings

Managing director, Hennings Wine Merchants

It’s a quarter of a century since Matthew Hennings joined the family firm founded by his grandfather in West Sussex in 1960. These days, the company has four shops across the county and is one of the UK’s most respected independent wine merchants, happy to embrace modern innovations such as ecommerce and Enomatics while keeping its heritage close at hand. Hennings became its managing director and is also a board member of the Vindependents buying group, of which Hennings is the biggest retail member.

51 Tim Atkin MW

Wine writer

Atkin forms one of the consumer event trio Three Wine Men with Oz Clarke and Olly Smith, is co-chair of the International Wine Challenge and writes for various trade and consumer titles. He is a rarity in his profession, equally adept at conveying the joy of wine to drinkers and elucidating on complex issues for an industry audience.    

52 Jo Wehring

UK market manager, Wines of South Africa

Wehring has over a decade in the top generic marketing job for South Africa in the UK, during which time it has made big sales gains to strengthen its position against competitor New World nations. A shortfall caused by drought in the country makes this year a testing one for the nation’s wine exporters.

53 Toby Sigouin

Wine buyer, Inverarity Morton

Scotland’s biggest independent wine and spirits supplier has been sculpted over the past decade by fusing together William Morton, Forth Wines and Inverarity Vaults. Sigouin began his career working in a branch of Oddbins and is now studying for an MW while overseeing a portfolio of 2,000 wines with annual sales of 9 million bottles. 

54 Olly Smith

Writer and broadcaster

The ebullient Smith has a column for the Mail on Sunday’s Life magazine, appears regularly as a wine expert on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen and has his own podcast, A Glass With… , which has seen him chatting to the likes of Dawn French and Dermot O’Leary about their favourite tipples. He’s also been a contestant on Pointless Celebrities. 

55 Kim Wilson

Managing director, North South Wines

The start of this year saw Wilson became the first managing director of the company she set up with buying and marketing director Joy Edmondson and finance and operations chief Hamish Gillespie in 2014. Its impressive portfolio of partner wineries includes Australia’s De Bortoli, Viña Ventisquero of Chile and France’s François Lurton.

56 Zameer Choudrey CHOUDREY

Chief executive, Bestway

After the Booker merger with Tesco, the nephew of Bestway founder Sir Anwar Pervez finds himself the head of what is unequivocally the largest independent wholesale food and drink wholesaler in the convenience sector. Its influence over the wine category will sharpen considerably after last month’s deal to rescue Bargain Booze and Wine Rack. 

57 Stephen Finch

Managing director, Vagabond Wines

Vagabond has quickly become one of the most talked about independent wine merchants in the UK since former management consultant Finch opened the first shop in Fulham in 2010. It now has six sites across London and has added an urban winery to its latest opening at the regenerated Battersea Power Station.

58 Muriel Chatel

Founder, Borough Wines

After starting out on London’s Borough Market in 2002, it took Chatel nearly 10 years to open store number two, but she and her team have made up for lost time and now have eight sites across the capital and another in Hastings. The business is also a wholesaler and has Borough Wines Corners concessions selling refill wines in several independent shops.

59 Ruth Yates

Owner, Corks Out

Yates’s five-strong chain of hybrid-style wine shops has become one of the most notable independent retailers in the UK since the first opened in 2003. She has outlined ambitions to double the number of locations offering the Corks Out trademarks of great quality wine, top drawer customer service and attention to retail detail. 

60 Jessica Hutchinson

Managing director, Vindependents

The buying group for some of the UK’s top independent wine merchants suffered a setback this year when Oxford Wine Co and Corks Out opted out, but others have joined to boost the ranks. Former Majestic store manager Hutchinson’s ambition to take membership to the 50 mark still appears to be on track. 

61 Nik Darlington

Managing director, Red Squirrel

Darlington possesses one of the wine trade’s most varied CVs, taking in spells as a rugby coach, diving instructor, House of Commons researcher and political columnist before setting up Red Squirrel in 2012. It specialises in digging out wines from less well-known regions and more unusual grape varieties.

62 James Davis MW

Commercial director, Adnams

Davis’ professional life returned to Suffolk last autumn when the one-time Greene King buyer landed the role leading the wine buying team at Adnams after a short spell as wine buying manager at Tesco. Adnams’ chain of 12 specialist drinks shops makes it East Anglia’s biggest independent off-trade player in wine.

63 Joseph Walsh

UK Commercial director, Distell

Walsh’s route to handling the off-trade fortunes of the Nederburg wine producer began interviewing the likes of Shaggy and Holly Vallance on the breakfast show for Juice FM before swerving into the drinks trade for a career that’s included time with Cobra lager, Diageo and Boutinot. 

64 Ann Douglas

Wine trading controller, Nisa

The Competition & Markets Authority’s approval for the Co-op buyout of Nisa last month will give the symbol group extra clout in what is an increasingly competitive market following the Tesco-Booker merger. Douglas’s eye-catching Wine Festival promotions have already raised the symbol group’s game in the wine category in recent times.

65 Hannah Tovey

Director, London Wine Fair

This year’s revamped London Wine Fair will be Tovey’s first since taking over the organiser’s seat at Brintex from Ross Carter. Tovey has extensive experience in the wine industry’s events market as the former managing director of The Wine Gang and the launch organiser of Imbibe Live.

66 Joe Wadsack

Broadcaster and consultant

Wadsack is one of the UK’s most engaging and likeable talkers about wine, doing the serious stuff as a panel chair at the International Wine Challenge and the accessible with regular TV and wine fair appearances. Since making a start learning to make wine in Bordeaux, his varied career has featured Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Oddbins, Saturday Kitchen, the Sunday Express and Richard & Judy. 

67 Anita Jackson

UK Director, Wines of Chile

Chile has achieved consistent growth in the UK off-trade over the past decade. Jackson stepped up to the director role of its generic body four years ago after an 11-year spell as its campaign manager. More than 25 years in the wine industry have included spells with Sainsbury’s, Seagram and Oddbins.

68 Alex Hunt MW 

Purchasing director, Berkmann Wine Cellars

The family-owned agency firm has prestigious names such as Antinori, Lapostolle and George Duboeuf in its portfolio. Hunt was captain of the university’s blind wine tasting team while at Oxford before turning professional, first with Mayfair Cellars, then joining Berkmann in 2006. He’s been an MW for eight years. 

69 Hal Wilson

Managing director, Cambridge Wine Merchants

Cambridge Wine Merchants topped the 50 Best Indies poll in DRN’s sister title Harpers Wine & Spirit last year, the latest in a long line of awards that are rightful recognition for one of the UK’s best all-round specialist drinks retailers. Wilson founded the company with Brett Turner in 1993.

70 Richard Cochrane

Managing director, Felix Solis UK

The former Bibendum trading director was brought in by Spanish wine producer Félix Solís to set up its UK operation in 2014. Its Viña Albali brand was already well established in the market and Cochrane has helped secure its role as one of the most significant players in own-label Spanish wine in the off-trade. 

71 Adam Brett-Smith

Managing director, Corney & Barrow

With exclusive agencies for famous names such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Clos du Tart, and royal warrants going back to the reign of George V, few wine merchants carry as much prestige as Corney & Barrow. Brett-Smith has been boss of the company – which has shops in Ayr and Newmarket – since 1988.

72 James Tanner

Chairman, Tanners Wine Merchants

Tanner is the fourth generation to work in the family-owned wine shop chain and wholesaler. The Shrewsbury-based company has six stores in English-Welsh border country and is a member of prestigious wine merchant collective The Bunch alongside Adnams, Yapp Bros, Corney & Barrow, Berry Bros & Rudd and Lea & Sandeman.

73 Jamie Goode

Wine writer

The founder of the Wine Anorak website has become one of the most high-profile wine writers in the business as the columnist for the Sunday Express. Goode’s writings and lectures can always be relied on to challenge conventional wine industry wisdom, and his scientific research background brings valuable technical knowledge to the judging circuit.

74 Tatiana Fokina

Chief executive, Hedonism Wines

Fokina used to sell fine art in Moscow before joining mobile phone entrepreneur Yevgeny Chichvarkin’s project to create the world’s most sumptuous wine store in London’s Mayfair eight years ago. Her creative touch and commercial skill have helped Hedonism realise the dream. The store is a model for other retailers to aspire to, even if they can’t match it for financial resource.

75. Chris Stroud

Wines of New Zealand

76. Paul Beavis

Lanson

77. David Parkinson

Wines of GB

78. Victoria Moore

Wine writer

79. Craig Durham

Buckingham Schenk

80. Sebastian Desreumaux

JF Hillebrand

81. John Worsley

Bancroft Wines

82. Doug Wood

Woodwinters

83. Harry Georgiou

Amathus

84. Frazer Thompson

Chapel Down 

85. Martin Skelton

Gonzalez Byass

86. Nick Mantella

United Wineries

87. Mark Driver

Rathfinny

88. Doug Wregg

Les Caves de Pyrene

89. Ravi Kotecha

Drinksupermarket

90. Kirsten Kilby

Armit Wines

91. Ted Sandbach

Oxford Wine Co

92. Nicholas Tatham MW

CWF

93. Charles Lea

Lea & Sandemann

94. Rory Benham

Wine Treasury

95. Richard Jones

Reh Kendermann

96. Andrew Eakin

Bottle Apostle

97. Mark Wrigglesworth

The Good Wine Shop

98. Elaine Hindal

Drinkaware

99. Andrew Maidment

Wines of Argentina

100. Noel Young

Noel Young Wines




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