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Looking ahead: Talya Roberson, director, Roberson Wine

Published:  19 December, 2018

Once again we are catching up with the trade over the next few weeks to find out how businesses are making the most of the all-important Christmas trading period, while also looking ahead to the challenges and opportunities 2019 will bring.

Our series continues with insights from Talya Roberson, director at fine wine merchant Roberson Wine.

Would you say that the trade is in a stronger or weaker place now than at the same time last year, and why?

The trade is both weaker and stronger. For those with energy, vision, daring and financial strength there is still plenty of opportunity out there.

What were the highs and lows for your own business in 2018?

Highs: This year we sold more Californian fine wine than Bordeaux to private clients. It’s an indication of the massive potential this state has in the fine wine market and a sign of frustration around the pricing in Bordeaux.

In response to customer demand we have gone plastic-free and now send all our deliveries in 100% recycled card packaging.

Lows: It’s a real shame to see the high street retailing struggling. Personally, we’ve lost some big listings and this has obviously impacted our bottom line.  

What were the most significant trends in the drinks world that occurred in 2018?

Low alcohol wines, wine in cans, cannabis wines, off-piste regions, English sparkling wine. It’s the insatiable thirst for the new. But don’t believe all the hype. The trick is finding a trend that captures the imagination AND converts into sales.

What drinks trends do you predict will emerge or become more firmly established in 2019?

“Healthification” is here to stay and the demand for low ABV drinks will continue.

We will also see more rosé-derived products in wine, but also in cider, gin and other categories.

The bumper harvest is a massive boost for English still wine and the 2018 vintage will be affirmation that the still varietals deserve a place on every good wine list.

Finally, the rise and rise of Californian wines in the fine wine market and the increasing awareness of the USA’s wonderful and various AVAs. Get Santa Barbara on your radar!

What are likely to be the biggest opportunities for the trade in 2019?

If you can roll your sleeves up and get out there when most people are sitting on their hands, that’s when you can make an impact. We’ll be using this political uncertainty to drive innovation and improvement across all aspects of our business from wine to logistics and service. There’s also great scope for collaboration as together we will have a stronger voice to address some of the big issues of our time.

What will be the biggest challenges facing the trade in 2019?

We all know the problems out there. The biggest challenge is working out how to respond to them. 2019 will be a tough and bloody year - not for the passive or the faint-hearted.

Who are the people, companies or sectors to watch in 2019?

Us. ☺

What, for you, would make for a perfect Christmas?

A few lie-ins and an old-fashioned knees-up with family and friends.