Winesolution is a very unusual animal in the wine trade – not least because a 10p per bottle donation from sales of the Dulce range goes to help support Paignton Zoo. Owner Hugh Elliott said: “We have been developing our own range of sweet wines, called Dulce. We have photos of animals on the labels, so we thought it would be a great idea to link up with a wildlife charity.”
In an era when supermarkets overwhelmingly dominate alcohol sales, Hugh Elliott and son Harry are turning back back the clock and created a business based on value and distinctive personal service.
In a timber chalet at the rear of Willowbrook Garden Centre on the A38, the Elliotts have created a small world of wine; offering everything from corkscrews to rare liqueurs, plus the wine itself.
“It’s a shop where everyone should feel comfy. It’s grown organically into something that’s everything wine related,” he said. Hugh spent 10 years working as the West Country face of an international drinks company.
“We carry over 100 wines in stock and a lot of the stuff you just can’t buy elsewhere. It’s not on other peoples’ shelves.” Hugh believes this is where the retail wine business can differ from, say bookselling, where independent booksellers have been almost wiped out by Amazon and Waterstones.
It takes time for word to spread about a very personal business and with Winesolution in only its second year, the commercial backbone of the business remains the fruity Dulce range, imported exclusively by the Elliotts. “Our customers love it and both direct and online sales are growing all the time,” he said.
“It’s the kind of wine that people come back for time after time. Personally I became disappointed with established attitudes towards sweeter wine. Our customers love it but they’re almost made to feel ashamed of that.”
Hugh has the kind of large, warm, welcoming personality that makes it hard to imagine any customer feeling other than well cared-for.
“On price terms supermarkets have got it made because every week they have offers that are just ludicrous,” he reflected. “But in terms of good quality wine we’re often better value, plus you can stay and have a chat.
“If you don’t like it, come back and shout at me. You can’t yell at a supermarket aisle.”
In these early days for the retail operation Hugh is frank that “Selling wine is a tough game, with a lot of competition, so we have to be different. It’s fun and an adventure, we don’t believe there should be any rules about wine.”
Contact Winesolution via: www.winesolution.co.uk