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Cambridge gears up for 30th anniversary celebrations

Published:  13 March, 2023

Cambridge Wine Merchants is celebrating reaching three decades in the trade in 2023, with a roster of events lined up to mark the major milestone.

The business was established in 1993 by two friends, Hal Wilson and Brett Turner, who met at Cambridge’s Peterhouse May Ball three years prior. Thirty years later, the wine-loving duo are still going strong as the owners of one of the most prominent regional wine businesses in the UK, having topped Harpers 50 Best Indies list in 2021 and being a regular in the top 5 of that ranking. 

In 2023, Wilson and co have a number of events lined up to mark the landmark year, including the business’s first Whisky Fair, taking place this week. An Argentinian Tasting, a second Veni Vidi Bibi Dinner with all profits going to charity, plus a winter wine fair in December are also in the offing.

“We started with one shop in Mill Road, Cambridge in 1993 and have never looked back,” Clive Pawsey, head of retail for Cambridge Wine Merchants, said.

“We’re still owned by Hal and Brett, but we’re now one of the biggest independent wine merchants in the country and continuing to expand. Our motto is ‘we’re only as good as the last bottle we sold’, so we buy with love, dedication and flair. We are always on the lookout for funky one-offs and proper wine made by real people. We source many of our products from independent, family-run wineries and distilleries, so [we say to customers] ‘you might not be familiar with all of the names, but you can trust us’.”

The company now has a total of three shops with wine bars in Bridge Street, King’s Parade and Cherry Hinton Road, plus franchises and partner businesses in Ampthill, Royston and Marlow. It can also lay claim to successful door-to-door and wholesale operations nationwide.

The portfolio has also grown significantly in the past three decades. The vast range now includes 400 malt whiskies, 900 wines, plus “loads of crazy stuff from local ales to cocktail ingredients”, Pawsey said, many of them “excellent value because we import directly or deal directly with suppliers”.

“Our mission is simply to be the best independent wine merchant in the country and to have fun doing it. I believe we are a great asset to the wonderful city of Cambridge as our fame has spread far and wide. A lot of visitors to the area come and seek us out, whether it be to have a drink in one of our wine bars or to get a lovely bottle of wine (or more) to take away with them,” he added.

Cambridge Wine Merchants is also launching a 30th Anniversary Wine Fair set to be held at Cambridge Rugby Club as part of the company’s celebrations.

The event is taking place on 16 June, 5pm to 10pm, with 150 wines to sample.