Tony’s Diary: The wine world is packed full of extremely good people

I have always known that the wine world is packed full of extremely good people. It is a pleasure and often an honour to know and work with them. I actually think it’s more the wine people than the wine itself that have kept me so passionately engaged all these years… 56 passionate years in wine now.

But I guess it’s working with wine that just attracts a good sort of person. People don’t come into wine as a way to making lots of money. They come because they want to work with something beautiful. Making the best, most beautiful wine they can, in the best, most beautiful way. And those of us who work at finding the best wines and delivering them to you our customers, beautifully and reliably, have the same attitude.  

So I have always wanted you to know about our wine producers, and to help you meet them if you can. That’s been my intent, my purpose in life for those 56 years now. That isn’t altruism. It’s good business!

Wine, today, can seem all about whether it is 94 points or 95. About Gold Medals tallies. Or % discounts.  But when you warm to someone, admire what they do enjoy their company then their wine just seems to taste much better…and so, it actually sells better. Isn’t that wonderful?

Journey’s End Vineyards

We’ve worked with the Gabb family for thirty years or so. Their winery in South Africa just won The Drinks Business top award ‘Ethical Company of the Year’. Last year we ourselves got an award for Water Management at our own RedHeads winery in Australia. Really pumped, we were! But we have to admit the Gabbs take things to a whole new level. Which is why we love working with them and why you must try their wines. For they really deserve your custom.

Bees Knees Chenin Blanc Viognier £10.99 a bottle

Journey’s End Winemaker’s Selection Chardonnay £12.99 a bottle

Elands Pass Cabernet Sauvignon £10.49 a bottle

Dizzy Heights Chenin Blanc Pinot Grigio £8.49 a bottle

Making Waves Sauvignon Blanc Semillon £9.99 a bottle

Journey's End South Africa

Not only did they convert to solar energy years before anyone, not only are they ‘Fairtrade’, not only do they sponsor underprivileged candidates for wine exams and their own creation, the Women in Wine Initiative. They also built and fund a school for the township at the end of their road which provides most of their workforce. However, this tragic year, they went truly ‘above and beyond the call’… the award judges were “…unanimous in their praise for this company’s genuine commitment to supporting its local community, which this year led to the creation of a foundation aiming to tackle worsening hunger and poverty within the South Africa by providing 10,000 free meals a week via nine soup kitchens – a feat one judge described as “extraordinary”. “They are doing something desperately needed right now in providing food for their local community that has been devastated by the pandemic – it’s a little bit of magic”. That really cheers me at this time.

I feel I’d buy wine from people like that even if the wine wasn’t so good.  But that’s the amazing thing; I may love their wines on account of what they do but here, we do nonetheless select wines following strict blind tasting standards. We don’t know what it is we decide to buy until the labels are revealed.

But it seems there’s this little miracle; good people just don’t make bad wines.

Bosman Family Vineyards

Another South African family we support – you support with your purchases – the Bosman family also got a commendation this year for the same sort of reasons. There will be more. I can’t recollect visiting any of our South African suppliers who didn’t take us to see their school, crèche or ecology initiative. They help cheetah’s and leopards as well as people. We don’t go looking for altruistic wine producers, just producers of good wine. But it just seems the two are always entwined.

Gérard Bertrand

And not just South Africa. The same competition’s ‘Green Personality of the Year’ is Gerard Bertrand, the very laudable son of my very first wine supplier in the South of France; the late Georges Bertrand. So I guess it’s ever been thus.. those who really love the wine they make always love the land, their soils, their vineyards and the people who tend them.

Gérard Bertrand and I a while back

I love the wine world. Don’t you?

Tony Laithwaite

About Laithwaite's Wine

We’re wine nuts, not wine snobs. We’ve been exploring the world on a mission to find great wine for the last 50 years. If you love adventure as much as we do, you belong with us. We know our winegrowers like family – and in some cases they actually are. Expect to hear from these legends of the soil, see behind the scenes access into vineyards and wineries and get news on fresh finds from our travels on this page. Drink responsibly. Visit for further health information. You must be aged 18 or over to follow.

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