On Tuesday 7th June, 6 intrepid AWE members journeyed to Stevenage in Hertfordshire, home of The Wine Society. We were met by Ewan Murray, the public relations manager, I suspect known to most of our members. He has worked for TWS since 2004, firstly as tastings and events manager and now as head of PR. He ran through the history of the society, with all the dates and major players at his fingertips, explaining how the society came into being in 1874, through the first telephone arrival, to moving to Stevenage in 1965 and up to date with the construction of Warehouse 5 which will increase their storage capacity by around 60%!
Ewan then showed us around the buildings, starting with the members’ collection area – some wonderful looking boxes there! We then moved on to dispatch, which is like what you would expect behind the scenes at Heathrow, without the throwing of bags. Lots of automation, boxes moving around on rolling tracks, being filled with single bottles, mixed orders and so on. They pride themselves, rightly, on filling orders for next day delivery where required, using both their own vans around the country and DHL. At the moment, there is no delivery charge at all, no required minimum order, whether you live in London or the Orkneys. They are trialling this and so far, it’s looking good. Excellent news for the likes of us, if you need just one or two more bottles for that tasting.
We then went to the largest of the 4 currently operational warehouses. This goes up to 9 pallets high, and we saw the two custom built pallet trucks at work, like cherry pickers, with the operatives going up and down and loading orders. Richard and Abbie both had a ride up, I just can’t quite believe they don’t fall over, but at 3 tonnes, the base unit is pretty stable. Ewan said that the machines were brought in, as a ‘kit’ and assembled once the last walls went up. They will not be leaving The Wine Society any time soon!
We then left to go to their light, bright tasting room, where we tasted 36 of The Society’s own label wines, all of which are excellent value and show typical examples of the styles. The two Greek whites were praised by us all, along with the Crémant de Loire. A list of the stars (possibly slightly biased!) is at the end.
We finished with a lovely buffet lunch, where we were joined by Jo Locke and Freddy Bulmer. Much conversation and laughter later, we bade them goodbye and left, as with every good outing, via the shop! Don’t tell my husband……
A few recommendations
The Society’s Celebration Crémant de Loire 2018 £12.95
The Society’s Greek White 2021 £8.95
The Society’s Exhibition Santorini Assyrtiko 2020 £14.95
The Society’s Exhibition Tasmanian Chardonnay 2020 £14.95
The Society’s Exhibition Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2021 £14.95
The Society’s Exhibition DO Colchagua Andes Carmenere 2020 £10.95
The Society’s Exhibition Margaret River Cabernet Sauv. 2019 £16.50
The Society’s Exhibition Langhe Nebbiolo 2019 £13.95
Remember we have a discount for wines used in tastings – please check the member benefits page for more details.Tags: Wine Society