Tony’s Diary | The Vintage Festival

Group ShotRichard Fallaize, our traditionally-built van man who does the heavy-lifting at our shows, was chatting with a customer down from Leeds who confessed that, at 75 he’d regretfully decided last year he’d done his last Vintage Festival. However, intrigued by the new venue; Old Billingsgate on the river, he thought he’d give it one more go.

He loved it to bits. Now, he enthused to Richard, we need not worry; he’d be coming to VF’s to the end of his days.

Our new home had that effect on everyone we all met. Unanimity … nothing but praise for Old Billingsgate.

Billingsgate Hall

Not just the older customers;  the new and young too. The Friday evening session crowd just keeps getting younger and more boisterous. Innocent babes though, compared to Mr Charles Smith: Rock n’ Roll winemaker from Washington State. They met their match there! We all did!

I loved how our young team (I will always think of John and Ian as young and the others actually are young) had used the space so cleverly. They’d kept our traditional ‘wine market’ look, (the antithesis of those corporate exhibitions: rows of boxes with rent-a-dollies and suits).

There was now much more comfort, good food and an un-intrusive sound system you could actually understand. There were no scrums and time to talk as well as taste.

The VF is a very important, once-a-year effort for us.  And it IS a HUGE EFFORT.

It’s not about making money. (I’m not sure it does).

But it is just something we HAVE to do. And something we LOVE to do.

We spend all year trying, with our writings, to bring producers and customers closer together.

But for just two nights we REALLY get them together. And the result is Beautiful!! And we all; customers, wine producers, us, get a brilliant reminder of why we so love our very special world of wines.


‘Til next year then!

About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!