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West Country turns out for SITT Bristol

Published:  19 September, 2017

Yesterday saw the highly popular SITT show return to Bristol, with a high turnover of visitors and strongly positive response from the wine and spirits industry of the West Country.

Hosted amidst the sleek columns and classic architecture of the historic Bristol Museum and Art gallery, and with 60 wine and spirit producers exhibiting, SITT was applauded by key industry figures from all sectors of the trade for bringing their exhibition to Bristol.

Among the guests was Susy Atkins, wine editor of Delicious, and wine writer for the Sunday Telegraph.

“This was the perfect time for SITT to visit Bristol as the wine scene in the city, and in the wider South West, is enjoying a golden age with far more interesting wine lists, bars and independent retailers than ever before. The South West’s appetite for new, rare and inspiring labels has never been keener”.

Exhibitors ranged from established distributors such as Hatch Mansfield, ABS and Seckford Agencies, to new additions such as Global Wine Solutions, a strong presence from emerging regions Lebanon and Hungary, and the arrival, - for the first time - of the burgeoning Wines of Brasil, which presented an impressive array of their sparkling wines.

Peter McCombie MW hosted masterclasses on the opportunity for Hungarian wines, while Angela Mount discussed the issues facing the west county wine industry, with a strongly-opinionated audience.

With hundreds of wines on display, SITT Bristol gave both visitors the opportunity to taste a vast array of wines, and meet producers from across the board, without having to make the journey to London, where the wine world remains focused, whilst giving smaller importers and agencies the chance to meet and understand the needs of this vibrant market.

Stephen Barrett, wine writer and educator from Plymouth was vociferous in his support: “The West Country presents so many challenges to our industry, because it’s so varied. Whilst there is wealth in the urban conurbations of Bristol, Bath and Plymouth, the scene is very different in the more rural areas, and there is less disposable income, so restaurants and pubs need to get it absolutely right, to tempt people in. It’s great that there is this opportunity to discover an entire wealth of new wines, without having to trek up to London”.

Nik Darlington, MD of Red Squirrel Wines was equally focused on the West Country.

“Yes, I live in London, but I prefer to be out visiting customers in the West Country,” he said.

“We don’t use regional wholesalers. We prefer to go direct, and there is a real vibe and energy about this part of the world right now.”

As discussed in the masterclass, the scene in the South West is very polarised. “There are fabulous destination restaurants and hotels such as Nathan Outlaw’s, Rick Stein’s and Michael Caines,” continued Barrett.

“Then you have country pubs. But there is still a lack of understanding and a need to approach the middle sector, although Bristol is now addressing this with its pop-ups and more relaxed format approach.”

Other exhibitors were equally supportive.

“It’s important that we get out to retailers and restaurants all over the country, and this is where SITT does such a good job,” said one.

“As smaller producers, we don’t necessarily have the national reach, and have to rely often on regional wholesalers, so it’s very important that we have the platform to speak to the key businesses and influencers in the West Country directly”.

Ana Sofia Oliveira, representing Wines of Brasil, was equally enthusiastic.

“We support SITT. It’s important that we showcase our clients’ wines outside of London, and these events give us the opportunity to meet with regional trade and understand more about their business needs and new trends”.

Marty Grant, co-owner of Corkage in Bath also commented: “We try to get to as many tastings as possible. But it’s not always easy, given location. It’s also the larger wholesalers and distributors who host those tastings, so having the opportunity to taste wines from smaller producers, who may otherwise slip under the radar, on our own doorstep, is just perfect, and will help me and other wine businesses build new contacts, explore new ideas, and keep the offer fresh. Smaller producers either don’t get the opportunity or get lost in the mix at big shows such as the London Wine Fair, so the SITT concept is perfect.”

Given the distance from Cornwall to London, SITT Bristol saw a high response, and a welcome response from the vibrant and ever-burgeoning wine scene in the West Country.

SITT London takes place tomorrow (Wednesday 20) and will similarly offer similar opportunities to showcase the quality and variety from the exhibitors’ portfolios.

Register now for free at