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OBITUARY: Jeremy Paul Spencer

Published:  23 July, 2008

4 October 1954 - 12 June 2005
A driving force at one of the UK's leading wine distributors, when he retired from the Wine Trade in 2002, Jeremy Spencer had been in the business 22 years.

Spencer was born in Birkenhead and spent much of his youth in Maidenhead. Prep school at Wellington was followed by schooling at St David's College in Llandudno.

From the age of 12, Spencer worked in his father's wine business, The Vineyard, during the school holidays. On leaving school he started his own bar catering business. He then spent some time as a wine retailer working for Mellor & Pattison in Liverpool before setting up his first partnership venture, the Grape Escape, a wine bar in Chester.

It was at the Grape Escape that Bill Page first came across him. It was 1980 and Page, who is now the chairman at Mentzendorff, was managing director of Italvini/European Vintners. 'Chris Carson was our sales director and we were looking for a salesman to take care of the North of England,' says Page 'and in limped Jeremy on crutches having injured his leg during rugby'. Spencer secured the job and covered the North of England and Scotland with 'great enthusiasm and great success, so much so that he soon became our Northern Regional Manager', says Page.

In all Spencer was with Italivini/European Vintners for 5 years and Page remembers him fondly, 'he was an outstanding personality, larger than life in every respect. He was always cheerful and will be very much missed by all his friends.'

In 1985, Spencer joined Enotria but made the move to Western Wines in 1986 where he was sales director initially for Western's (whole owned) Italian subsidiary Consorzio Vinalia before becoming Western's sales director in 1991.

Roger Gabb, founder and Chairman of Western Wines says 'I first met Jeremy through his father who used to sell for the Company in the Wirral. He brought Jeremy along to a meeting one day. I was looking for a top-flight supermarket salesman and asked him if he knew of anyone who might be suitable. Three days later he rang me to say that he himself was interested, and so he joined.'

It was at Western Wines that Spencer really made his mark on the Wine Trade. In those days Western Wines was still a fairly small operation with Spencer looking after the selling end of the business whilst Gabb took care of the supply and buying side. 'Thanks to Jeremy, our wines were soon listed by most of the big 10,' recalls Gabb, 'and sales went from a couple of hundred thousand cases up to over 4.6 million cases whilst he worked for the Company. We also widened our sourcing from the traditional France, Germany and Italy to South Africa and Chile.'

Spencer retired from Western Wines and indeed the wine trade in 2002. 'Ours was a 16 year partnership,' says Gabb. 'Jeremy was a larger-than-life character and a very strong salesman. We were sorry when he retired and we are deeply saddened by his death. He was an original.'

Spencer leaves a wife, two sons, two step sons and two nieces.

The funeral will be held at Telford Crematorium, Woodhouse Lane, Redhill, Telford, Shropshire TF2 9NJ (Tel: 01952 610612) at 1200 noon on Monday 27th June 2005 and afterwards at Goldstone Hall, Goldstone, Shropshire. Family flowers only please. Donations in memorial if desired to Macmillan Nursing Trust. There will be a private interment ceremony the next day for family and close friends only.

Obituary by Western Wines