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Feel Good Grapes: All you need to know about the new online retailer

Published:  23 January, 2020

UK-based wine businessman and writer Mike Turner has added a new string to his bow for 2020. As well as running Please Bring Me My Wine, a wine industry focused digital media consultancy, and co-owning Primrose Hill restaurant La Ferme, where he oversees the wine list and wine training, he has launched a new online wine merchant.

Feel Good Grapes is an online-only wine shop championing sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wine which has been launched by Turner and his business partner Toby Flood.

We catch up with Mike Turner to get to the bottom of this new venture, explore why he’s taking the sustainable route and look at the opportunities and downsides of running a web-based wine business.

Who is Feel Good Grapes aimed at?

Our target customer is basically every wine drinker who gives a flying sh*t about making sure we’re not messing everything up for the next generations to come. You’d hope that’s everyone, but we all know that’s not necessarily the case. The pure economics of it all is that these wines will cost more to produce than conventionally farmed wines, so they will cost more to buy. Price will always be a huge factor in people’s purchasing decisions so we’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but we will make sure that the wines we sell are aiming to be the best quality/price ratio we can find that fit our ethos.

What are the benefits of being an online-only retailer?

I could go on about rent and rates here, and as someone who is a part owner of a restaurant it’s something that definitely bothers me about ever having a bricks and mortar operation, but being honest it’s because I get to run the business from wherever I am. I travel a lot, I’m at client meetings… so not being tied down to five or six days a week in the shop is pretty important in a small operation for now.

There are downsides. I think the customer relationship and loyalty is much greater when there’s bricks and mortar and face-to-face conversations going on. Also the price wars online can be pretty savage, with a general margin squeeze for larger online retailers.

Why do you think sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines are the future?

Our generation is the first to realise en masse, that we’re messing this planet up. The second half of the 20th century saw a massive push for convenience and a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. We’re now seeing the environmental and cultural cost of that and it has, quite rightly, shocked many people into a change of thinking.

I do think the wine trade could and should be in the crow’s nest of this move and I’m more than happy to be there with a big pointy stick helping prod the trade along the road, along with many others, to a more considered and responsible future.

Are you buying direct from producers are through importers and agents?

We’ll be buying through importers and agents. We’re really blessed in the UK to have a wide selection of brilliant importers, covering the length of breadth of the globe for us, and I’ve been lucky to meet many over the past couple of years that I feel really happy to back. You’ve got to be a bit careful obviously, especially as an online retailer, as price wars online get worse the more widely available the wines are, but it then becomes a great excuse to search out the smaller importers and back them to keep doing what they’re doing.

Also, although Toby is an active business partner, he’s got a full time job himself, so it’s not really fair of me to ask him to spend his spare time on the blower to customs officials to sort out all the HM4 forms!