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9 Fine Wine Importers of UK to look out for

Fine wine importers play a crucial role in the UK wine market by bringing high-quality, premium wines from various regions around the world to the UK.

The UK is one of the largest fine wine and spirit markets in the world, and there are many importers and distributors that specialize in premium and high-end products. These importers are responsible for sourcing, purchasing, and distributing fine wines to wine retailers, restaurants, and private customers.

Some of the key players in the UK market for fine wine and spirits include:

1) Berry Bros. & Rudd

 Berry Bros. & Rudd

Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant, having traded from the same shop since 1698. Today the company also has offices in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, a Wine School, and an exclusive fine wine and dining venue in London's St James's.

Today, with two Royal Warrants, over 300 years of history, and three Masters of Wine, Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s original wine and spirits merchant. While the firm embraces progress, traditions are also valued. Everyone is welcome to the Widow Bourne's shop by the Palace, whether they want one bottle or a cellarful. They are run by members of the Berry and Rudd families and continue to supply the British Royal Family, as they have done since the reign of King George III.

2) The Wine Society

The Wine Society

As the world’s largest member-owned society of wine lovers, they believe in doing business differently, offering great value every day.

The Wine Society is unique in the world of wine because they have no external shareholders to please, so the money they make gets reinvested, keeping quality high and prices low. Not only that, but their award-winning buying team has the freedom to choose wine based on quality and value alone, seeking out new discoveries for members. 

Their long-standing relationship with suppliers – some stretching back more than 100 years – means they are able to secure exclusive wines you won’t find anywhere else.

3) Hedonism Wines

Hedonism Wines

Established in August 2012 and located in the heart of London’s Mayfair, Hedonism is a fine wine and spirits boutique that has already become the most talked about wine project of recent times.

The UK's best buyers have sourced around 6,500 wines and 3,000 spirits, taking the crème de la crème from each region of the world whilst carefully checking the provenance of every bottle.

They also offer guests the opportunity to sample nearly 50 wines on-site using their 5 Enomatic machines. Tasting highlights in the past have included Screaming Eagle 2010, Latour 1996, 2002, and 2008, Lafite-Rothschild 1959 and 2005, Château Rayas 2005, Sine Qua Non-Midnight Oil, Atlantis Syrah, B20, Sublime Isolation, Hoodoo Man and The Monkey, Masseto 1994 & 2002, Château d'Yquem 1981, 1983, 1999 and 2001, Gaja Barbaresco 1985 and many more.

4) Majestic Wine

Majestic Wine

Majestic Wine is proud to be the UK’s largest specialist wine retailer, with over 200 stores and over 1,000 highly trained expert staff nationwide. Originally founded as ‘Majestic Vintners’ by Sheldon Graner in 1980, the first warehouse was opened in Harringay, North London. 

The mission is to help you discover more wines, beers, and spirits that you’ll love.

What makes Majestic special? The people. 

They only employ people who are friendly, enthusiastic, and refreshingly down to earth. What’s more, every single one of their store colleagues works towards being professionally accredited by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). This means you get informed answers to your wine questions, along with personal recommendations from people who enjoy drinking and learning about wine just as much as you do.

5) Laithwaites Wine

Laithwaites Wine

We still prefer to go direct to the smaller, family-run wineries for this reason. Because winemaking is more than just a profession for these guys, it’s a way of life and a source of pride. And it shows in the quality of their wine. This is the stuff we’re nuts about and we’re sure you’ll love it just as much.

For over 50 years we’ve been delivering wine the right way – from people who love making it to people who love drinking it. We never overcomplicate things. By keeping it simple at every stage, we’ve been able to keep costs down and guarantee authenticity with every single bottle.

6) The Sampler

The Sampler

The Sampler was started in 2006 by Dawn and Jamie – who turned their hobby into The Sampler. The Sampler was the first wine shop to have sampling machines in the UK. In fact, they helped change the law regarding how wine could be served. They have a rotating roster of 80 wines to sample – you can therefore try before you buy, or you can try something you are curious about but could otherwise never afford. 

The Sampler is a fine wine shop, with many unusual wines and older bottles. Their philosophy has always been to be against wine snobbery, in whatever form that takes, and to allow you to experiment and make up your own mind about what you like. 

7) Corney & Barrow

 Corney & Barrow

At over 240 years old, Corney & Barrow is one of the longest-established Independent Wine Merchants in the UK. Corney & Barrow aims to offer carefully-selected, honestly-priced wines that not only deliver quality and value for money but also a sense of place. Where possible, they aim to build exclusive relationships with suppliers, making their range of wines unique. They offer benchmark styles; wines that are the best examples of a wine style, country, region, or sub-region, whether they are wines to drink immediately or wines to lay down. 

They also have a range of Own Label wines that are blended by some of our top producers, offering top-quality wine without the high-end price tag.

8) Hennings Wine

Hennings Wine

Founded in 1960 by Charles Hennings, the first shop at London House, Pulborough, was primarily a delicatessen offering a handful of wines to local patrons. Control has passed, father to son, since then; from Charles to Ted, and in turn to Matthew, the current Managing Director.

While the shop did a roaring trade with its foodstuff in the early days, it was evident that wine was to become the driving force within the business. “There was very little choice in the local area when it came to wine merchants”, Matthew continues, “as demand increased, wine began pushing the deli to one side. The speed of this increased further when my father Ted joined in 1965 to ‘temporarily’ help out.”

Such was the demand from both private and wholesale customers, that a flurry of new shops opened in Billingshurst, Petworth, and Midhurst. Why is Hennings still going strong 63 years later? Matthew reflects on comparisons between the initial move from deli to wine merchants with the launch of their website in 2005.

9) The Fine Wine Company

The Fine Wine Company

In 2002, they took our experience of working with one of Scotland's most awarded restaurant wine lists and opened a store in Portobello in Edinburgh's east and began selling online, shipping throughout the UK. Since opening, they have been blessed with the loyal custom of Edinburgh's fabulous locals, and many of the earliest customers are still regulars today.

They now have one of the widest ranges of wines by the case anywhere online. This range allows them to reward high-street customers with a constantly evolving selection, from prestige cuvees which grace the nation's finest wine lists to the unique regional beauties that are only found off the beaten path. They also take the time to tour the smaller producers, shipping directly to cut out middlemen and keep prices low. They also stock hundreds of craft beers, 100+ malt whiskies, dozens of Scottish gins, ancient Armagnac's, and much more.

Overall, fine wine importers play a critical role in the UK wine market by bringing premium wines from around the world to the UK and providing customers with access to a wide range of high-quality products.

Written by Stuti Khetan, Beverage Trade Network

The 2024 London Wine Competition results are out! View the list of winners here.

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