Have you ever enjoyed something so much that you wanted - straightaway - to share it with friends and family?
That happened to me 50 years ago and I have not stopped sharing it ever since.
In 1969, by complete chance, I took a job washing bottles at a Bordeaux winery. They made great wines ... and at very reasonable prices.
I fell so, so in love with their wonderful world of wine.
It was the way the lives of everyone, from the bottle washers upwards, were totally wrapped around not just making wine but making THE BEST wine possible. These wine people weren't just passionate, they were obsessed!
I had it drilled into me early ... C'est qualité! Qualité! Qualité!
I wrote home and they said, well then, bring some of that real quality stuff'. See most of the wine you could buy in the UK at the time was blended in vats in Britain and there was plenty of deliberate mislabelling going on.
It made me angry and I wanted it to stop. So I wrote to the papers (that's what you did in the 1960s). Made some noise.
More and more people started asking for a taste of this real quality stuff'.
So I borrowed a van, drove down, collected my special wines and delivered them ... sharing all that excitement.
These were wines from growers I knew personally, with real stories (that customers found reassuring). And even a beginner could taste they were better.
Things went so well that winemakers across Europe began offering me their wines. So my girlfriend and I opened our first premises ... under a railway arch.
50 years later we (now married, three sons, grandkids and all) have over 400,000 excellent customers ... but we still work in a very similar way, knowing personally all our 450 winemakers around the world and knowing - thanks to technology - the likes and dislikes of every customer.
Wine, done right, really is such a personal thing; it's best that way.
I am Laithwaite's first customer.
A long time ago I played golf every week with Tony's dad and heard his son had left school and gone off to Bordeaux.
Tony was now all excited about the wine. I said bring some back. So he did. Two cases, on the train. Dropped one, I got the other! That was the summer of 1965. Little did anyone know where it would all lead.
- Norman Henderson
Meet the makers ...
Great wines simply can't be mass produced ... the best bottles come from individuals working on a smaller scale.
Through Laithwaite's you are plugged directly into a 50-year-old network of 450 or so seriously talented winemakers, making real wines in volumes too small for the pile-em-high retailers.
For a few winemakers, wine is just a job. For the most talented, it's their life's passion ... all they think about. No surprise, these wine nuts' make the best bottles!
But after all that work, you wouldn't offer your precious bottles to just any trader, not with your family's name on the label. Personal bonds of trust, in many cases built over decades (thanks to the extraordinary loyalty of our customers) are vital.
It's not uncommon for us to say:
Bring out your best bottles, my boy, remember we bought from your grandad!
Every one of our family of winemakers has a story to share ... and a few bottles of something special held back for old friends, like Laithwaite's customers.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are 25,000 wineries in France alone, yet fewer than 1,000 make the sheer volumes demanded by the supermarkets. It's a story repeated the world over.
Tailored to you ...
Wine experts are always very happy telling you what they like, but what's most important is what you like! And it's always very personal.
Tell us a little bit about the wines you do or don't like and we will start to offer you, too, a truly personal service - online, in store and on the phone.
No two wines are the same - and neither are any two customers.
Rate wines you've enjoyed or otherwise by visiting your account. You'll see every wine you've bought and can add a written review if you like, or simply rate your wines out of five.
Click the heart to favourite any wines that you'd be interested in drinking again. The website will remember them for you and we'll tip you off when they're on offer ... or about to run out!
Answer a few quick questions in the preferences section and we'll tailor future offers to your personal tastes. Or just mention anything you really enjoyed next time you give us a call.
You're in good hands (in fact, the best)
We like to claim that Laithwaite's is the best place to buy wine ... and we also like to PROVE it.
We are one of the first UK companies to have been awarded a ServiceMark with distinction from the Institute of Customer Service.
With us you can enjoy not only the finest service in the wine trade, but pretty much the best of any UK retailer!
Our customers agree ... online reviews at TrustPilot have seen us rated and EXCELLENT'.
We've many people serving you at Laithwaite's who've done so for twenty, thirty years or more. Unsurprisingly we've thousands of customers who've been with us just as long.
Because we just are the best place to buy delightful wines.
Laithwaite's is clearly committed to keeping their customers happy.
- Jo Causon, CEO Institute of Customer Service
And don't forget our 100% money-back guarantee
... if you don't like a wine, you don't pay for it!
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Laithwaite's began in 1969, when geography student Tony Laithwaite took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux ...
and fell in love with wine and the people who make it. When he borrowed a van to share their delicious wines with
friends and neighbours at home, things went so well that hundreds of little wineries all around the world were soon
queuing to take part. Today we're the UK's No.1 home-delivery wine merchant, with over 1,500 wines to choose from
including red, white, rosé, Champagne, Prosecco, spirits ... you name it. Tony's still at it - and now really good
at washing bottles. Read more