Grand designs pay off for keen marketers

23 February, 2007

Profile: Cooden Cellars



Cooden Cellars in Eastbourne, Independent Wine Retailer of the Year at the 2007 Drinks Retailing Awards, is the first of our independents to be profiled.

Colin Barnes and Ian Jarman opened the store at the rear of Eastbourne's Grand Hotel in May 2001 after recognising a niche for a quality regional wine merchant in the town.

Since then the business partners have built up a customer database of 500, which is growing rapidly thanks to the introduction of a website, where customers can also buy wines online.

The shop has a large selection of French wines to keep the majority of its customers happy, but Barnes and Jarman are not afraid of heading into new territory and stocking more unusual wines. They have a range of Greek wines, for example, which have been selling well.

Extra marketing activity is something the pair do wholeheartedly - they regularly contribute articles to local newspapers and magazines and also take part in a food and drink festival called Feastbourne.

They have taken wine education a step further than simply offering in-store tastings by setting up the Cooden Cellars wine school, Wine Sense.

"We were told one of the reasons we won the award is because we go into teaching about wines," said Barnes.

The duo's philosophy is : "Taste, retaste and taste again to make sure we are happy with every wine before putting it on the shelves." Barnes added: "That's why people come to us and not supermarkets. They don't have to join queues and they can talk to people who know about the wines."

This month, he said, they will be : "Trying to take the business through the quiet period of January and February by increasing the wholesale side of the business - and making our local wholesaler worried." Emma Eversham

Richard Royds, Haslemere Wine Cellar, Haslemere, Surrey

Sauvignon Blanc

"But that's because our house wines are that variety. We sell a very good Chilean wine and a Vin de Pays D'Oc which are both Sauvignon Blanc. Their popularity is based on price but they are good quality wines . "

Steve Harris, manager, Tanners Wines , Bridgnorth, Shropshire

Sauvignon Blanc

" People are going for the more citrussy, zesty and lighter style that Sauvignon gives, rather than the heavier, more buttery style of Chardonnay. However, Pinot Grigio is proving popular. "

Kate Green, sales co-ordinator, Grape Passions, Little Braxted, Witham


"Our biggest seller is Champagne so I suppose our biggest selling white grape variety is Chardonnay. Generally our biggest sales come from Champagne because we do specialised labels and that kind of thing."

Ben Murray, Luvians Bottle Shop, St†Andrews, Scotland

Sauvignon Blanc

"It's most likely New Zealand Sauvignon people ask for. The New World Chardonnays were heavily oaked and people found it hard to choose, but with Sauvignon Blanc it's hard to be disappointed. Pinot Grigio is still popular ."

Stanley Griscti , Swallow Fine Wines , Salisbury

Sauvignon Blanc and Colombard

"We sell quite a lot of those two wines, but that's because they are ones I don't think anyone else does from the Charente region in France . We still have steady sales of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio."

David Wood , The Wine Shop , Leek, Staffordshire

Sauvignon Blanc

"It was Chardonnay a couple of years ago and now it's Sauvignon Blanc. People aren't looking for a really gutsy wine any more and they might be looking to match it with food. I think Viognier will be the next big one. "

Angela Newton , Corks and Cases, Masham , North Yorkshire

Sauvignon Blanc

"The Sauvignon Blanc coming out of New Zealand is so good that people are getting hooked on it then trying it from all over the globe. There are some really good Sauvignon Blancs at good price points . Viognier is becoming more popular in Australia and I think that will spread over here."

Paul Barker, manager , Theatre of Wine , Greenwich, London


"We sell quite a lot of Sauvignon Blanc, but we do well with Rieslings . We are fairly specialised and with a lot of our German Rieslings you are easily looking at £10 and up for a bottle. We try to educate our customers through tastings and we have a loyal following. "

Tony Riches, Wine Time , Ormskirk, Lancashire

Sauvignon Blanc

"It's tight between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, but people are generally running down the ABC route - anything but Chardonnay. When Australian Chardonnay hit the market a decade ago, everyone liked it because it does exactly what it says on the label, but people's palates change ."

Tom Innes , Irma Fingal Rock , Monmouth, Wales


"Most of the Chardonnay I sell doesn't have Chardonnay written on the label. I'm a Burgundy specialist which is why I sell heaps of it, but if it said that it was Chardonnay on the label it would put people off."

What is the most popular white grape variety you sell by volume?


65% Sauvignon Blanc

20% Chardonnay

10% Riesling

5% Colombard

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