According to the drinks industry press there are now 855 independent wine merchants in the UK, an increase of 31 on 2017. Graham Holter, editor of The Wine Merchant (arguably UK`s most influential trade magazine for the independent sector) says this is encouraging news for an industry feeling the effects of the weaker pound. I say it is BRILLIANT news – performing well in difficult times against a tsunami of much bigger drinks specialists and the supermarket chains, with their much greater buying power and resources, is the story of David and Goliath in our time. We are proud to count ourselves among the 855, and it is particularly gratifying that in 2016 an industry panel of over 100 judges voted us in the UK`s top 50. It`s been a long journey for us, now nearly nineteen years for me personally, and this was a great moment. We were at the awards event in London when we heard the announcement and I practically fell off my stall! I mention this now to give hope to all independents out there, and to youngsters thinking about “giving it a go”. “Small” is flexible. Out of necessity we play to our strengths and it is dynamic and creative. We work hard and with passion and people buy into the enthusiasm because it`s genuine and honest. In the past ten years, for us, it has also been about change. Standing still wasn’t an option. If we had been in town we would have become a hybrid: part wine shop, part wine bar. But in Great Horkesley we simply don`t have the footfall, so we started our ticketed events. Our wine-tasting dinners have been especially successful, often sold six months ahead. We invested in the premises to incorporate our fledgling deli. Then we knocked through into our adjacent house and built The Gift Room, a great move for us. In a nut shell, we diversified. But with wine still at the heart of everything we do. Still a wine merchant. And moreover, a great community life. We count ourselves lucky.