Like many other small businesses, Scarlet Wines has diversified rapidly over the last few months, using the complete break from normality to adapt its business model and refocus on core principles.
From a merchant which sold mainly to the on-trade (the restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars of bustling St Ives, Cornwall) with a small retail shop, Scarlet Wines became a wine delivery service supported 100% by private customers who received welcome packages to their doors during lockdown.
However, for Founder Jon Keast simply adapting wasn’t enough; he embraced the situation as a route to becoming a more environmentally friendly business in preparation for a greener post-lockdown world.
Jon invested in an electric bike (a Riesse and Muller Load 75 e-cargo bike which can carry about 60 bottles at a time) for deliveries in town, and an electric van for transporting wine further afield; Scarlet Wines is now thought to be the only wholesaler in the South West with a fully electric transport system.
With all Scarlet Wines premises using Ecotricity (a 100% green energy supplier) these carbon-neutral wine deliveries have become a matter of pride and joy for Jon’s customers – especially as the bike can continue to operate when St Ives town is closed to vehicles to ease congestion and enable social distancing in the busy streets between 11am – 4pm every day.
Following the success of Scarlet Wines’ lockdown service and pleas from customers, private deliveries will continue alongside the restaurant trade, which has boomed again since the hospitality industry reopened on July 4th.
Coupled with a portfolio increasingly dominated by organic and biodynamic wines – many of which are also vegan – and Scarlet Wines has adeptly become one of the UK’s greenest wine merchants in recent months.
Jon, who is an active campaigner on climate change, is even dropping many non-European wines – unless they have a really strong case to be included – in order to save carbon from their long-haul journeys.
He explains: “A cool climate Riesling from Tasmania has to have a discernible character and quality which can’t be found in an Austrian or German counterpart to make it onto the list.”
Jon states: “We need to think more carefully about all kinds of consumption, and that includes wine. As a wine merchant it’s my job to create a portfolio with a green conscience, and to deliver that wine with as little environmental impact as possible.”
Jon has some useful advice for others thinking about the future of their businesses: “It’s sometimes hard to know where to start with sustainability improvements, but I think the key thing is to do just that – start! We all have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible.”
Find out more at www.scarlet-wines.co.uk