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.
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.
You will mostly find me upstairs at The Wine Centre, looking after the marketing and admin. I have 15 years marketing experience working mainly in the travel industry. I love drinking wine and didn’t realise how much variety there is. My husband is also enjoying the benefits of me regularly bringing home different wines to try. I also have a love for clothes and get easily tempted as I walk through the shop, particularly when a new delivery arrives. This is a perfect job, to be surrounded by beautiful clothes and wine, what more can a girl want!