Hot afternoon reflections from the vineyards:
“Laithwaites is more a crusade than a business.
Student work in here in Bordeaux, the summer of ’65 gave me an obsessive desire to tell everyone about the ancient, magical but somewhat closed wine world of the small French wine grower … and their honest, unadulterated, wines.
Laithwaites began with a van that said on its side ‘Producteurs aux Consommateurs Direct’. Doing a regular shuttle between winegrowers and UK consumers … we delivered not only their wines but their voices.
It struck a chord. Still does. Part of the appeal is the multiplicity of small wine producers and the pleasure of coming to know them as well as their wines.
Luckily, The Sunday Times discovered our cellar under the railway arches, introduced us to Hugh Johnson and encouraged us to go and bring back the whole wide world of wine displayed in his Wine Atlas.
But modern big-scale retail was taking over wine, destroying so many specialist wine shops, and threatening the traditional small wine producer with its Big Brands. Small winemakers really fear the supermarket threat to their culture.
But consumers, once they are properly introduced to it, want to keep the romance of the traditional wine world. They want to know more about who’s making their wine.
So Laithwaite’s mission continues to be what it always has been; telling the true stories of the world’s wines and the people who make them. To build a crusading army of wine people who want to enjoy the real wines of real wine farmers, meet them and know more of them. This army, must be powerful enough to resist, maybe even defeat the corporate behemoths.
So our future clear; we; my family and colleagues must keep on building our devoted army of wine-drinking friends and our small wine growers. We must keep doing what it said on the van; bringing the producers closer to the consumers.”