25 Years of Liberty Wines

David Gleave MW

David Gleave MW

Liberty Wines is 25 years old today. It won’t surprise you to hear that the company has changed a bit in the past quarter of a century. On 10th March 1997, John Major was still the Prime Minister (Tony Blair wasn’t elected until early May), Bill Clinton was in his second term as president of the United States and Liberty Wines was a couple of weeks away from moving into its first warehouse in New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall, southwest London.

Until we did so, my wife Luciann Flynn and I had some wines in our living room at home from where we despatched orders (usually in the back of my car) and were slowly receiving stock into Bond from Selvapiana, Isole e Olena, Fontodi, Capezzana, Costanti, Felsina, Franz Haas, Vajra, Aldo Conterno, Specogna and a few others. (Liberty Wines’ first purchase order, for Selvapiana Chianti Rufina, Vin Santo and The River Cafe Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is framed and displayed in our offices to this day.)

While the dimensions of today’s professionally run company are distinctively different to the homemade start-up of 25 years ago, Liberty Wines is still the same company at the core of its operations. In the introduction to our first list, we stated that our aim was to provide our customers with a level of service that was at least equal to the quality of our wines – something that I believe we have been able to achieve thanks to the quality of the people who have worked at Liberty Wines over the years.

It hasn’t been without its moments. 9/11 was a huge shock, but our customers were less affected than we originally feared they would be. The global financial crisis of 2008 had longer lasting consequences. The damage that was about to be done was evident on the day of our September tasting when a customer came in and said that Lehmann Brothers had gone bust. Living with a plummeting Sterling in 2008 helped us deal with the same problem after the referendum of 2016.

The experience we gained from overcoming these challenges, and many others along the way, has made us a stronger company today. And with this experience, the energy of our new leadership and the constant drive to improve, I’m confident that Liberty Wines will continue to develop and thrive for the next 25 years. Today, however, I would like to say thank you to all – customers, suppliers and team – who have been with us during our first 25 years. Here’s to you!