UK's 50 Best Independent Drinks Merchants: London retailer seizes top spot
London wine merchant Vagabond Wines was crowned the UK’s Best Independent Drinks Merchant last night after securing the most votes in a poll of industry experts.
OLN and sister title Harpers Wine & Spirit revealed the UK’s 50 Best Indies at an event in London designed to celebrate the achievements of the hardworking independent retailers that give the drinks trade such a good name across the UK.
Vagabond was founded in Fulham in 2010 by Stephen Finch as a retail store and wine bar where customers could sample and buy 100 different wines.
It has now expanded to three stores, with another three in the pipeline, along with plans to open a microbrewery and urban winery.
A fellow London retailer, The Sampler, which has stores in Islington and Kensington, claimed second spot, and the capital enjoyed a strong showing along the list.
In fifth was Hedonism Wines is a huge, modern, glitzy wine boutique in Mayfair, set up by the founder of Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer in late 2012, which covers 700sq m over two floors and lists some 5,500 wines and 2,000 spirits, including many of the rarest and priciest bottles in the world.
Bottle Apostle, Borough Wines, We Brought Beer, Lea & Sandeman and Handford Fine Wines all also featured on the list, taking the London total to eight.
But the entire country was represented, with stores from the north of Scotland right down to Cornwall featuring, with northern and southern England and Wales gaining several representatives too.
To arrive at the list, we divided the country into 10 zones, including splitting London up, and chose five experts for each region. Each expert was asked to nominate three retailers from their region, plus two from outside the region, and rank them from one to five, with a weighting attached to each vote. It was then a case of using a mathematical formula to create the final list, which is here in all its glory:
- Vagabond Wines, London
- The Sampler London
- Cambridge Wine Merchants, Cambridge
- South Downs Cellars, Sussex
- Hedonism Wines, London
- Hennings Wine Merchants, Sussex
- Noel Young Wines, Cambridge
- The Oxford Wine Co, Oxford
- Tanners, Shropshire
- Bottle Apostle, London
- Corks Out, Cheshire
- Harper Wells, Norwich
- Woodwinters, Scotland
- Hanging Ditch, Manchester
- Le Vignoble, Plymouth
- The Leamington Wine Co, Leamington Spa
- Red Squirrel, Hertfordshire
- Borough Wines, London
- We Brought Beer, London
- Amps Fine Wines, Peterborough
- Lea & Sandeman, London
- D Byrne & Co, Lancashire
- Ten Green Bottles, Brighton
- The Bottle Shop, Cardiff
- Handford Fine Wines, London
- Cheers Wine Merchants, Swansea
- Corks, Bristol
- The Old Bridge Wine Shop, Huntingdon
- Duncan Murray Wines, Harborough
- Favourite Beers, Cheltenham
- Connolly’s Wine Merchants, Solihull
- Loki Wines, Birmingham
- Talking Wines, Cirencester
- Grape & Grind, Bristol
- Yapp Brothers, Wiltshire
- Christopher Piper Wine, Devon
- Luvians, Fife
- Bin 21, Morpeth
- Ellis Warton Wines, Par, Cornwall
- The Solent Cellar, Lymington
- The Secret Cellar, Kent
- Tasting Room, Bath
- The Vineyard, Belfast
- The Fine Wine Company, Musselburgh
- James Nicholson, Crossgar, Northern Ireland
- The Wine Centre, Colchester
- The Wine Chambers, Tynemouth
- Old Chapel Cellars, Cornwall
- Bon Couer Fine Wines, Melsonby, Yorkshire
- Define Food & Wine, Cheshire