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Wine importer Red Squirrel sees wholesale business grow fivefold in three months

Article from Harpers

Chiswick wine importer Red Squirrel Wine has seen its wholesale business take off after it beefed up its portfolio and revamped its logo and website.

The group unveiled its new look and new wines at London Wine Fair’s Esoterica section, and says the exposure there helped boost sales fivefold.

The firm now has 67 wines from 22 producers in six countries – and added a host of Italian wines to its list.

Red Squirrel already specialised in Italy’s Liguria region, but has now added a host of wines from Piedmont including La Torricella from Monforte and Cà ed Balos (Moscato d’Asti), Franco Mondo (Barbera d’Asti), Pelassa (Roero Arneis) and Tenuta La Pergola (Cisterna d’Asti).

South Australian winemaker David Bowley will see an additional three wines added to his Vinteloper range while Muscadet grower Frédéric Guilbaud makes his debut on the list. There are also two new wines from Ribera del Duero, developed over the past year by Red Squirrel in conjunction with 12-hectare Viña la Loma and Bodegas Vitulia.

Managing director Nik Darlington said wholesale trading has grown sixfold in value year-on-year, with a fivefold increase in value since the London Wine Fair in June 2014. Until this year, Red Squirrel was almost entirely a consumer-facing business. Now it also supplies independent wine shops and on-trade outlets across the country.

Darlington said: “We have never wavered from our commitment to native and alternative grape varieties. Winegrowers get that, and are attracted to what we’re up to, meaning that while we do spend a lot of time travelling and seeking out new gems ourselves, some of our strongest relationships are with people who actually sought us out, Margaret and Jack Reckitt of Clos Rocailleux being a great example. It’s a great privilege that they and other small producers such as Francesca Bruna or Vinteloper’s David Bowley – who make hundreds, not thousands, of cases a year – have put that trust in us.”

Darlington set up Red Squirrel in 2012 and now employs three full-time staff, including Rob Woodhead in sales.