Cornish wine merchant wins regional award for the second year running
Truro-based wine merchant Old Chapel Cellars has been named IWC Regional Retailer of the Year for South West England, for the second year in a row.
The IWC Awards took place at The Hurlingham Club in London earlier this month; the prestigious awards are a major event in the wine industry’s annual calendar, bringing together merchants, wine buyers, journalists and producers from around the UK and beyond.
The regional awards are given to the best performing merchant in each area, based on an assessment of the investment and progress made over the course of the preceding year.
Recipients must show they are “passionate in developing exceptional wine ranges, elevating their wine offer, customer service and engagement. They have experienced and knowledgeable teams, focussed on delivering a strategy that positively impacts the UK wine industry.”
Old Chapel Cellars is based in a former chapel near Truro Cathedral; from here the busy team of six sells wine direct to the public via a shop and website, while also suppling some of Cornwall’s top restaurants and hotels.
The business is co-owned by Louisa Fitzpatrick and Jamie Tonkin.
Jamie commented: “We’re thrilled to have picked up this award two years in a row, as it reflects how hard the whole team strives ahead across all aspects of the business. The retail and trade operations, the Cornwall Wine Centre – which is our educational arm – and the website, as well as events and tastings… For a small team it’s a lot of plates to keep spinning so this is fantastic recognition for us all.”
Louisa believes that becoming a B Corp – Old Chapel were the first UK merchant to achieve this social and environmental accreditation – has given the business great forward momentum.
She explained: “As a B Corp, we’re constantly assessing our impact as a business in an open and honest way. It helps us focus on what we want to achieve and identify the steps we need to take in order to get there, which is exactly what the IWC judges recognised again this year.”
She added: “One of our big strengths is the balance of the team. We’ve got a 50/50 gender split and an age range of 24 to 71. Everyone brings their own set of skills, experience, and perspective.”
Since collecting their award, the team took a brief moment to celebrate before moving onto the next challenge – the relaunch of the Cornwall Wine Centre website in time for a busy schedule of courses starting in the autumn.
Louisa said: “One of our key focuses this year is on making wine education in Cornwall as accessible and inclusive as possible, with a range of WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) courses aimed at both aspiring hospitality professionals and the general public.”