03 October, 2008

Christmas plans? Bah humbug!

Since when did Christmas begin in September? Last time I checked,

this is

the month to get my kids new pencil cases for school and to start feeling chilly when

outdoors in my

flip-flops. September is not the time to put decorations up, order in my Christmas stock and

baking mince pies. Call me a Scrooge, but I need to get Halloween and Bonfire Night out the way before I deck the shop out with tinsel and serve my customers mulled wine.

I panicked when I read Vox Shop in OLN's Sept 19 issue. You asked four retailers if they

were planning for Christmas, and all of them smugly said suppliers

had been contacted, orders placed and festive tastings planned. Does my point-blank refusal to consider any of this stuff until mid-November mean I'll lose out on sales, or am I like the vast majority of retailers finding there's not enough time in the day to re-stock shelves, let alone start planning for Christmas.

I'm calling for a Christmas amnesty in OLN - no mention can be made of the aforementioned occasion until I've got time to give it my full attention. Please heed my call, or I might end up a jittery, sleep-deprived mess when the festive season finally comes round.

Jan Baker,


Congratulations M&S

I want to take this opportunity to extend my praise to Marks & Spencer for being named Supermarket of the Year and Merchant of the Year at this year's International Wine Challenge.

It is a worthy win for a retailer that has consistently upped its game in the last five years - not just in terms of its customer service but also in the way it has constantly evolved its

offering. I always know that I can find unusual and interesting wines in my local M&S, and that the team's knowledgable winemakers have taken a risk by introducing something


I wish more supermarkets would take M&S's lead. As

an industry we must always strive to excite customers with interesting wines

- something I think

M&S does admirably.


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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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