On cloud wine!

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Sherborne is home to the best wine retailer in the UK – so say the biggest names in the industry. Hannah Wilkins, owner of Vineyards, tells all

The Vineyards team inside their new premises at the Old Yarn Mills in Sherborne

We’re writing this only hours after getting back from London, with our heads still spinning. 2023 is turning out to be an exceptional year – definitely vintage worthy!
After winning the Drinks Retailing’s ‘Best Wine shop in UK’ in February, we didn’t think things could get any better for Vineyards. Then the IWC contacted us to say we were a finalist for Single Site Wine Retailer of the Year – and (spoiler alert) we only went and won!

Quite a night
On 4th July we headed to the Hurlingham Club in London for the most prestigious wine event in the calendar. Launched in 1991, the The International Wine Challenge (IWC) Merchant Awards recognise and reward the outstanding achievements of the UK wine trade. As in February, we were over the moon to simply be shortlisted and thrilled to have an invite. Truth be told, we were feeling rather out of our depth.
We were rubbing shoulders on the night with huge commercial names being recognised across this year’s categories, including Naked Wines, Waitrose, and Majestic. The room was filled with world-class specialists, Masters of Wine and wino heavyweights – we also stood beside Oz Clarke at one point, which was surreal, having watched him on screen swirling a glass and making wine accessible to the masses for years.
We were completely certain that being recognised at such a high level was not on the cards for our little rural wine shop – it couldn’t happen twice in a year.
But what do we know?

Hannah Wilkins (left) set up Vineyards of Sherborne 18 years ago

It’s more than us
When Hannah opened Vineyards in 2005, she wanted to celebrate great wine that was made by fantastic producers and small growers, and be accessible for all budgets – and she has kept her promise. We love what we do. We source with a meticulous approach, we champion independence, we clink glasses with friends, we sell for fair prices for the entire supply chain (in an ever-more-difficult climate) … above all, we are happy when we turn up to work. That’s our daily trophy.
So to be recognised by such esteemed judges on an international stage? Overwhelming.
After hearing our name called, Sadie was whisked off for a quick interview – and that’s when it started to feel real. We were asked ‘What does it mean to win an IWC?’ and Sadie had to find a way to verbalise the truth – which is simply ‘the world’.
We’re rural, we’re neurodiverse, we’re female-led, and until recently we shied away from nominations like this.
But in all honesty this feels like it is a win not just for us, but also for great indie wine, for the small growers and fantastic producers we support, for our incredible suppliers, our loyal ‘winos’ – and never forgetting our little market town community.

Sadie Wilkins being interviewed after Vineyard’s were declared as IWC’s Single Site Wine Retailer of the Year

Why Vineyards?
So what is so special about Vineyards? We’ve been thinking about this a lot, and with the help of the judges, we feel confident in sharing what they see in us. All we have ever set out to do is be authentic, to make folk feel welcome in what can be an intimidating (wine) world. We only sell wine we source – and love – personally, and we only work with people who share our core values.
Our trusted team of wine experts are proud of our extensive (and, yes, eclectic) portfolio and strongly we believe in good old fashioned customer service.
But more than that, we see ourselves as a community hub, where locals regularly enjoy tasting evenings, foodie pop-up nights, festivals, charity events and workshops.
Come and say hello – pop a cork with us and see for yourself.

Vineyards can be found at The Old Yarn Mills, Sherborne DT9 3RQ.
vineyardsofsherborne.co.uk
Tue to Thu 12 to 5pm
Fri 11am to 9pm
and Sat 11am to 6pm

25 special offers for 25 years!
2023 is quite the celebratory year for Vineyards. Our Sherborne wine shop turned 18, I (Hannah) celebrate 25 years in the wine trade, and now we have picked up not one but two awards naming us ‘the best wine sellers in the UK’.
To share the love, the whole team at Vineyards have put together 25 special offers for you, our customers, to enjoy – and all the wines are available to try on the drink-in menu throughout July too.

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