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Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine to merge

Published:  08 July, 2019

Specialist importers Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine have announced they are merging to form a completely new importer and distributor supplying the UK’s restaurant and independent trade.

The Graft Wine Company, as the new outfit has been called, will essentially see the two businesses “start anew” on equal footing, while also joining the two existing portfolios together to offer some 400 wines from over 80 producers across Europe, the Americas, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Nik Darlington, founder of Red Squirrel, said the two importers have shared a similar philosophy since launching within six weeks of each other back in of 2012, and have gone on to work closely over the past few years.

According to Darlington, the aim is to “think small, but act big”.

“In the grand scheme of things, we may have occasionally punched above our weights, but both Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine were really small businesses.

“The Graft Wine Company obviously makes us a bit bigger, but we’re still a very small business with the same fast-paced, quirky ethos as before. However being small shouldn't mean we can't aspire to offer similar service levels and resources to much bigger players,” he said.

Despite retiring the Red Squirrel and Knotted Vine names, the two companies' portfolios will remain “largely as they are”, said Knott, who will be leading Graft’s sales activity in London as well as overseeing new portfolio additions.

The pair have “big aspirations” for a “broad but concise portfolio that delivers quality across the range” he said.

On starting again, Darlington said: “I’ve put an enormous amount of work into Red Squirrel and sacrificed a lot to get it to where it got. David has done the same with The Knotted Vine…There's also obviously a lot of uncertainty around our trade and the wider UK economy at the moment but rather than batten down the hatches, with the launch of Graft we're saying there are so many opportunities out there if we work hard and remain positive, and a resilient demand for delicious, exciting wines backed up by great, attentive customer service.

“All in all, it's a bold move but not at all against the grain for Red Squirrel or The Knotted Vine because we've always dared to be different.”

Miranda Fong will continue in her existing Red Squirrel role as the company’s buyer, and Clara Rubin will also continue as head of engagement.

Rubin will be coordinating the company’s training and learning resources for customers across the UK, including a “groundbreaking” smartphone app with technical information and podcasts interview podcasts intended to bring customers closer to the winemakers.

The company’s national sales team will represented by Robert Woodhead, Lisanna Tammsalu, and Chris McDiarmid, while Darlington will oversee all regional sales outside London.

Anna Bernia continues in her Knotted Vine role as Graft’s sales support and operations manager, while Greta Codyre stays in her part-time role in sales and marketing.

The newly joined team can be found holding its first portfolio tasting on 10 September in London, 16 September in Edinburgh and 18 September in Manchester.