Home  /  Inspiring Indies

Nigel Huddleston talks to Gerry’s manager Allen Daly about what makes this year’s Drinks Retailing Awards indie spirits winner so special 

Big drop no alcohol beer cans

Drinks Retailing has polled 20 independent retailers from across the UK to pinpoint trends in style and flavour across spirits, mixers and sparkling wine. Retailers also reveal their bestsellers and rising stars.

Drinks Retailing has polled 20 independent retailers from across the UK to pinpoint trends in style and flavour across spirits, mixers and sparkling wine. Retailers also reveal their bestsellers and rising stars.

After many hours of planning headaches, Sebastian Woolf took over the former Trafalgar Wines shop in Brighton to open a hybrid whisky shop and bar in September 2021. He tells Lucy Britner about the perks of independent bottling and his ambitions for the shop reborn as Cut Your Wolf Loose

The first Just Plonk off-licence is set to open in Cheshire’s Alderley Edge next month, with plans for 15 more stores in 2022.

Real Ale, Twickenham

16 April, 2021

Real Ale started out in 2005, years before the UK’s craft beer scene exploded with a raft of microbreweries, bottle shops and tap rooms.

Grape Minds was founded in November 2018 by two ex-Majestic staff , Graeme Woodward and Michael Jelley, when they identified a gap in the market for an independent store in the premium suburb of Summertown, to the north of Oxford. DR caught up with Woodward to find out more:

Butler's Wine Cellar, Brighton

20 November, 2020

Butler’s, which boasts the title of Brighton’s oldest wine merchant, was set up by owner Henry Butler’s parents in 1979.

Seven Cellars, Brighton

16 September, 2020

Louise Oliver set up her Seven Cellars business in 2015 in Brighton. Here she talks to Drinks Retailing about how sales have been in the past year and her plans for the future:

Jane Salt and husband Chris have just celebrated 10 years running their wine business, based in Ledbury, Herefordshire. The company started in 2009 as a wholesale business but it soon expanded to include a shop and events, as Jane explains:

Vessel Beer Shop, Plymouth

02 December, 2019

Sam and Katie Congdon met in Leeds but both had roots in the south west. They have a mutual love of beer and when the craft beer scene took off they embraced their hobby and decided to make it their profession. Katie talks to DRN.

In 2014 Jana Post and her partner decided to open a wine shop near their home despite having no experience in wine retailing. DRN speaks to Post to find out more:

Lancaster Wine, Lancaster

23 September, 2019

Barry and Fiona Howarth opened Lancaster Wine six years ago when they spotted a gap in the market for an independent wine store. Being made redundant triggered the move and provided the finances for the business, which has gone from strength to strength since. DRN catches up with Barry Howarth:

In 2012 Jass Patel and two friends teamed up to open a retail outlet specialising in unusual spirits. Patel tells DRN how it all began and where it’s heading:

Beermoth, Manchester

14 June, 2019

Beermoth opened in February 2013 to fill a gap in the market for a specialist craft beer shop to sit alongside the growing numbers of beer-focused on-trade outlets. In December 2015 the team opened the on-trade Café Beermoth, five minutes from the store. Co-founder Scott Davis talks to DRN:

Passione Vino started in 2003 as a wine importing business when Luca Dusi and Federico Bruschetta saw a gap in the UK market for quality everyday Italian wines. Four years ago they opened a wine shop, which later doubled as a wine bar. DRN spoke to manager Isabel Biagioni Angeli.

Thirteen years ago Dean and Margaret Pritchard switched from customers to owners when they decided to buy their local wine shop, and the store recently secured the award for Independent Drinks Retailer of the Year at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2019. The pair had run businesses before but didn’t come from the wine industry so it was a steep learning curve, as Dean Pritchard tells DRN.

Woodwinters, Edinburgh

15 March, 2019

Douglas Wood set up the first Woodwinters store in Bridge of Allen, near Stirling, 14 years ago. The company now has additional stores in Edinburgh and Inverness and it opened a London office two years ago to expand its wholesale operation. Gordon Forrest works in the Edinburgh store and is also the company’s head of design. He talks to DRN: 

Vino Vero, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

18 February, 2019

Vino Vero was established by Sam and Charlie Brown, who decided the Leigh-on-Sea store would be the perfect spot for their first venture. It sells beers, wines and spirits to take home or drink in, and was a hit with the local community from the start.

Kill the Cat opened on east London’s famous Brick Lane two years ago, with the aim of encouraging people to explore beer. The store, which caters “for the beer curious”, has a three-tier system for ranging its products to help customers navigate between different styles and eventually move out of their comfort zones. DRN caught up with general manager, Dan Sandy, to find out more:

The Laughing Heart, now nearly two years old, is a business comprising different segments that operate successfully together. It aims to appeal to those who enjoy fine wine in a restaurant environment or to take home, supported by various in-store wine and food events. Founder, Charlie Mellor, speaks to DRN:

Independent Spirit of Bath

17 October, 2018

Independent Spirit of Bath started in 2013 when Chris Scullion and Christian Morrish met and decided the city was missing a dedicated spirits venue. Sonya Hook talks to Chris Scullion:

Simon Taylor started the Stone, Vine & Sun wine business in 2002 after buying a mail-order list from an existing wine business that had closed down. The company evolved over the years and it now has a number of private clients, a wholesale arm and a shop.

Nickolls & Perks

14 August, 2018

Will Gardener started working for the family business in the mid 1980s, straight after leaving college. Soon after he joined, the company decided to expand the business nationally via mail order, wholesale and private clients, while making more of retail premises in the Midlands town of Stourbridge. Today six family members work there, all with a different area of expertise. 


16 July, 2018

Friarwood has been trading from its Parsons Green shop since 1967. It started out as 100% wholesale and until 2000 specialised in Bordeaux wines. Ben Carfagnini, the company’s owner since 2015, wanted to place a greater focus on the retail side, and as part of this the team opened a second store in Wimbledon Village last October. Head buyer Auriane d’Aramon tells DRN more about the company’s change of direction. 

Mill Hill Wines

16 July, 2018

Mill Hill Wines was established 35 years ago and is now the longest serving shop on The Broadway in Mill Hill, north London. The store was owned and set up by Laurence Hanison until his retirement. Former employee Andy Smith took over the reins in January 2017. The business offers a selection of more than 1,500 wines, spirits, craft beers and cigars.