I began my love affair with wine aged sixteen in the Ardèche, south of France, where I worked the vineyard cycle and helped make wine. Two years later I returned to Colchester, England to have formal training, passing my Wine Diploma in 1982, while working in a Suffolk vineyard and winery, followed by a spell at a wine shop in Great Horkesley – yes, the very same wine shop I was to buy years later, in 1999. I returned to France to continue my wine education in oenology, the chemistry of wine, at Montpellier University, before leaving for California where I wrote for a wine journal and worked at The Wine Cask in Santa Barbara. I then moved to London where I worked as part of a small team in wine wholesale before joining the American company Heublein Inc at 151 Marylebone Road London where I enjoyed London life for seven years before going it alone. Age 29, I decided to set up my own business as an importer of wines in London. A few years later my daughter Mollie was born who I refer to as “the apple of my eye”. Eight years later I was to sell that business and buy the Gt Horkesley shop, where I remarried and inherited two fine boys, James and William. So now we were a family of five. It was with my wife Janet that we changed what was a traditional wine shop into The Wine Centre and Gift Room it is today. It was the best decision I have ever made. We live on the premises, in the house adjacent to the wine and deli, so work is very much vocational to us and we are involved in the local community. It`s a good life.
Before joining Anthony at the Wine Centre in 2005 I spent many years as Fashion Buyer, Merchandise Manager and Operations Director at Williams and Griffin department store in Colchester. Prior to W&G I spent some years in London as a management trainee and then as a buyer for Fenwick of Bond Street, returning to Colchester to have my two sons, James and William. In my early years growing up in nearby Langham I enjoyed horse riding and cycling around our amazing countryside, and I have continued to stay fit, swimming and going to the gym regularly. Recently I have done both The London-Brighton and London-Paris cycle marathons; together with hundreds of men in Lycra they represented the pinnacle of my sporting career! At The Wine Centre I have been able to use my particular set of skills building The Gift Room side and corporate gifts. Anthony and I feel lucky to have the support of a great team and family around us.
Before joining the team last March, I had dedicated the past five years to my two girls. They started growing up (way too fast!) and I decided it was time to join the big world again! I worked for the Police for nearly 15 years and eventually left on maternity leave, using the time to pursue my creative interests, qualifying as a florist in 2010. I now get to be creative at The Wine Centre and Gift Room doing a range of jobs, also helping in the shop and at events such as fashion shows and wine-tastings. My main job is within the office, responsible for marketing, social media, e-mail and advertising. Although I am no wine buff, I have enjoyed learning about wine and I love being part of the team. My husband is also happy with my role as it has mutual benefits when I bring a bottle home on Friday nights. Naturally I also manage to sneak in an occasional new addition to my wardrobe, but he doesn`t need to know about that!
I was formerly known as Elf in my previous employment – the diminutive Elf reference was in fact nothing to do with my size, rather, I am assured, it was to do with my inclination to busy myself. Busy-bee might have been a more fitting name! So now I am happy being a busy-bee at The Wine Centre and Gift Room! Not to buck the trend, I also had a stint at Williams and Griffin alongside Janet and Merrill, as a cosmetics consultant. Most recently I have spent 20 years in Customer service resolving complaints with the Financial and Property Ombudsmen, so am well equipped for great customer service! Happily here our customers are more like friends! I have two passions in life, one has always been photography, and you will regularly see my photographs on The Wine Centre and Gift Room’s social media. My other passion is my family; I have three beautiful children and have recently married the man of my life. Additionally, fast becoming a passion, is my relatively new fascination with wine. I am enjoying pursuing my studies in wines and spirits and hope to take my WSET intermediate exam soon.
I’m the newest addition to the Wine Centre Team. I’ve spent most of my working life serving, selling, tasting and learning about booze. Initially I was in the hospitality trade from pubs and bars to restaurants and hotels. It was when I was working in a restaurant in Colchester and I took my WSET level 2 course that really spurred me on to learn more about wine and start working for a chain wine retailer. After four years of learning more and more and completing my intermediate and diploma wine and spirit courses I have joined The Wine Centre.
The wine that converted me was during a tasting of the Yealand’s wines from New Zealand. It was on sampling the Pinot Noir Rosé and having explosions of flavours from all manner of fruits and I was sold. My favourite wines now are Italian reds and for the whites Chardonnay and Rieslings but, in all honesty, there aren’t many wines I don’t enjoy!