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My affair with the wonderful world of wine began in the Summer of Love. While others dropped out, I got stuck in - sticking labels on claret bottles ...
As a student I spent my summers working in the Bordeaux vineyards – lugging the local wine home on the train for a few family friends. Then in 1969 I bought a Ford van in order to bring real wines - wines of authenticity and character and directly to customers in the UK.
Called 'Bordeaux Direct', the original business had just five wines on the list (at 13/6d a bottle!) and only 150 customers. But slowly we began investigating vineyards further up the Dordogne ... and beyond.
In the 1970's we were the first merchants - of any nationality - to prospect and buy wine from the wine regions of southern France ... Bergerac, Duras, Cahors, Madiran, Gaillac, Minervois, Saint-Chinian and so on eastwards. Then came other countries; Rioja, Bulgarian Cabernet, even wines from Australia that were first shipped in 1974.
Bordeaux Direct was unique for only selling wines bottled by the producers; because they simply had more flavour, extra character, total authenticity and somehow anyone, even a newcomer to wine, could always taste that quality and goodness.
Today ... over 40 years on, we're now called Laithwaites Wine and deliver wine to over 700,000 customers. We may be bigger, but we still go 'direct' in the same old way, and so keep costs down.
We have a huge network of supplier contacts, some now the grandchildren of those we started with. We still only do top-quality, small production wines from producers in every corner of the known wine world. We are still travelling, still searching out the real good wines.