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Wine retailer with Inverness presence wins UK title at the Decanter Awards

By Calum MacLeod

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WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies Inverness store on Church Street.
WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies Inverness store on Church Street.

Scottish wine importer, retailer and wholesaler WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies, which has stores in Inverness, Bridge of Allan and Edinburgh, has won the prestigious title of best local multi store wine retailer of the year in the Decanter Awards.

The award marks out WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies as the best UK business with multiple locations in the same region; beating outlets in Northern, Southern, Central and Eastern England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Decanter judges said that WoodWinters prevailed in this fiercely fought category because “their list sets them apart”. Online WoodWinters wine tastings which were introduced during the pandemic were also singled out by the judges as a tool which “really engaged their customers.”

WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies founder Doug Wood.
WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies founder Doug Wood.

Douglas Wood, founder and owner of WoodWinters, said: “To be acknowledged as having the best wines and spirits retail experience in the UK, outside of London, is a tremendous accolade for our team following 18 months of the most challenging trading conditions.

"We introduced our online tastings as a way of reaching existing customers and bringing them new wines to sample during lockdowns. With the world moving to a virtual platform, we were able to have independent winemaker hosts from across the globe to lead these wine tastings, talk about their vineyards and methods and their approach to winemaking.

"We enjoyed live punch downs and sunrise in Australia’s Yarra Valley and strolled through the vineyards of Gaiole in Chianti, which we as importers often experience but which was new to the consumer. For the producers they could reach out from lockdown to interested tasters who could raise questions and give their own feedback as they tried the wines. Not only did our existing client base engage enthusiastically with these events but we reached a whole new audience who now shop with us in our three stores as well as placing online orders via our new website.”

Research by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) in May 2021 showed that sales of still wines and spirits to the hospitality trade fell during 2020, by 60 per cent in volume terms compared to pre pandemic rates. At the same time, other research shows that alcohol sales to consumers rose by as much as 58 per cent.

Peter Richards, chairman of the Decanter Awards, said: “It’s clear that Covid-19 has changed wine retailing forever. All those awarded at the Decanter Retailer Awards 2021 have risen to what was a game-changing challenge and overcome it in style. Categories were all fiercely competitive this year – and indicative of a healthy, vibrant, innovative wine retail sector that’s looking to the future. Wine is one of life’s great joys and these retailers excel in the business of pleasure. Now more than ever this is something that deserves recognising – and celebrating.”

WoodWinters is recognised for the work it does to bring little known, artisan wine producers to their Scottish client base for both consumers and the UK hospitality trade. The WoodWinters team seeks out family run vineyards cultivating vines and making wine of the highest quality from Santorini to the Yarra Valley and Lombardy to Santa Barbara.

The Decanter Awards champion the best wine retailers in the UK and are judged by five independent wine experts based on the criteria of quality, value, range and service.

WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies opened its first shop in Bridge of Allan in 2005 and by 2017, the firm has outlets in Edinburgh and Inverness as well as a London office. More about WoodWinters can be found at www.woodwinters.com, where the online store and information about their producers can also be found.

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