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The Interview: William Hutchings, Proprietor and wine buyer, The Bell at Skenfrith

Published:  23 July, 2008

William and Janet Hutchings bought the Bell at Skenfrith in December 1999 and immediately closed it to embark on a major refurbishment programme, planning to reopen for Christmas 2000. In early December 2000 the River Monnow, which flows past the Bell, burst its banks and flooded the restaurant, so it did not open for business until March 2001.

Yes, it's definitely evident that five years on it helps bring people here. The spend on wine has gradually gone up and we are now shifting things like 1983 Chteau Palmer, on the list at 185 a bottle. Three weekends ago we had a local shooting party in with clients from London and they said they wanted to buy the whole list and take it back with them because they thought the prices so low. The wines, especially the most expensive, are priced to sell. We want them to be drunk rather than gathering dust for 10 years in our cellar. Wines in the 30-40 price bracket move quite quickly, above this sales have perceptively accelerated. We don't move huge quantities of Latour and Lafite but we do now sell them.