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Bill Baker dies

Published:  23 July, 2008

Bill Baker has passed away in his sleep, aged 53. The popular co-owner of Reid Wines died at his house in Rock, Cornwall, with his wife in attendance.

Baker studied at Charterhouse, and then took History of Art at Cambridge University, before entering the trade at Avery's of Bristol in 1976. He moved to the now-defunct Robertson wine merchant, before starting Reid Wines with Charles Reid in 1980.

The firm went into receivership in the early 1990s, and Reid left. "He carried on shooting while there was a recession on," said Baker, "so he had to go".

Baker changed the name to Reid 1992, the year it was reformed, and built up consulting work for Conran Restaurants (now D&D) after meeting chef Simon Hopkinson at Hilaire restaurant in London.

He also worked for Rick Stein, and built up a strong friendship as with Hopkinson. He memorably appeared on Stein's BBC TV series in 2005, "A French Odyssey" comparing the quality of Languedoc tomatoes with the "Dutch crap" on sale in the UK.

Baker hated political correctness, and talked of living abroad because of how he believed the UK had changed. He also refused to carry agencies, "because they're never happy. You have to spend ages trogging round accounts with them whenever the winemaker is in town".

Baker is survived by his wife, Kate, and two children, Polly and George.