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Local sourcing gives Waitrose 25% of English wine market

Waitrose’s local-sourcing policy has made the supermarket a favourite for English wine. As a result, the retailer’s market share for our home-grown wines is now over 25 per cent, according to Waitrose wine buying manager Justin Howard-Sneyd.

He told the UK Wine Show that Waitrose purchases a lot of UK wines because, ‘Across the board we have a good local-sourcing policy and it’s one we truly believe in.’ He explained that for a product to be local, it has to be produced within 30 miles of the branch. ‘And that’s strictly adhered to,’ he said.

This means that the retailer’s English wine offering consists of two white wines, one rosé and two or three sparkling wines that are listed nationally, but also as many as 25 English wines that are listed locally. ‘That means that a winery in, say, Sussex, can supply five or six branches within 30 miles,’ explained Justin. These wineries will deliver direct to the branches.

And it seems to be a policy that customers like judging by the fact that Waitrose is now selling almost twice as much English wine as it did last year.

‘It is gratifying to see that our commitment to English wine is starting to take off,’ said Justin, who admitted that, personally, he is quite sympathetic to the cause, having done a stint in his career working in an English vineyard.

So what does he think are the surprising things about English wine? ‘Sparkling wine clearly is going to be the main point of interest on an international level,’ he said, but he believes grapes like Bacchus are going to do extremely well. ‘I’m personally interested in light, floral, aromatic styles. Grapes like Bacchus I think do a very good job of taking a style that’s a little akin to Sauvignon Blanc, making it a bit more floral, nice 10-11 per cent alcohol level, so not too strong,’ he said.