UK's 50 Best Independent Drinks Merchants: London retailer seizes top spot

13 July, 2016

London wine merchant Vagabond Wines was crowned the UKís Best Independent Drinks Merchant last night after securing the most votes in a poll of industry experts.

OLN and sister title Harpers Wine & Spirit revealed the UKís 50 Best Indies at an event in London designed to celebrate the achievements of the hardworking independent retailers that give the drinks trade such a good name across the UK.

Vagabond was founded in Fulham in 2010 by Stephen Finch as a retail store and wine bar where customers could sample and buy 100 different wines.

It has now expanded to three stores, with another three in the pipeline, along with plans to open a microbrewery and urban winery.

A fellow London retailer, The Sampler, which has stores in Islington and Kensington, claimed second spot, and the capital enjoyed a strong showing along the list.

In fifth was Hedonism Wines is a huge, modern, glitzy wine boutique in Mayfair, set up by the founder of Russiaís†largest mobile phone retailer in late 2012, which covers 700sq m over two floors and lists some 5,500 wines and 2,000 spirits, including many of the rarest and priciest bottles in the world. †

Bottle Apostle, Borough Wines, We Brought Beer, Lea & Sandeman and Handford Fine Wines all also featured on the list, taking the London total to eight.

But the entire country was represented, with stores from the north of Scotland right down to Cornwall featuring, with northern and southern England and Wales gaining several representatives too.

To arrive at the list, we divided the country into 10 zones, including splitting London up, and chose five experts for each region. Each expert was asked to nominate three retailers from their region, plus two from outside the region, and rank them from one to five, with a weighting attached to each vote. It was then a case of using a mathematical formula to create the final list, which is here in all its glory:

  1. Vagabond Wines, London
  2. The Sampler London
  3. Cambridge Wine Merchants, Cambridge
  4. South Downs Cellars, Sussex
  5. Hedonism Wines, London
  6. Hennings Wine Merchants, Sussex
  7. Noel Young Wines, Cambridge
  8. The Oxford Wine Co, Oxford
  9. Tanners, Shropshire
  10. Bottle Apostle, London
  11. Corks Out, Cheshire
  12. Harper Wells, Norwich
  13. Woodwinters, Scotland
  14. Hanging Ditch, Manchester
  15. Le Vignoble, Plymouth
  16. The Leamington Wine Co, Leamington Spa
  17. Red Squirrel, Hertfordshire
  18. Borough Wines, London
  19. We Brought Beer, London
  20. Amps Fine Wines, Peterborough
  21. Lea & Sandeman, London
  22. D Byrne & Co, Lancashire
  23. Ten Green Bottles, Brighton
  24. The Bottle Shop, Cardiff
  25. Handford Fine Wines, London
  26. Cheers Wine Merchants, Swansea
  27. Corks, Bristol
  28. The Old Bridge Wine Shop, Huntingdon
  29. Duncan Murray Wines, Harborough
  30. Favourite Beers, Cheltenham
  31. Connollyís Wine Merchants, Solihull
  32. Loki Wines, Birmingham
  33. Talking Wines, Cirencester
  34. Grape & Grind, Bristol
  35. Yapp Brothers, Wiltshire
  36. Christopher Piper Wine, Devon
  37. Luvians, Fife
  38. Bin 21, Morpeth
  39. Ellis Warton Wines, Par, Cornwall
  40. The Solent Cellar, Lymington
  41. The Secret Cellar, Kent
  42. Tasting Room, Bath
  43. The Vineyard, Belfast
  44. The Fine Wine Company, Musselburgh
  45. James Nicholson, Crossgar, Northern Ireland
  46. The Wine Centre, Colchester
  47. The Wine Chambers, Tynemouth
  48. Old Chapel Cellars, Cornwall
  49. Bon Couer Fine Wines, Melsonby, Yorkshire
  50. Define Food & Wine, Cheshire

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