Established in 1997, the shop is now into its 20th year and the 8th year under the current ownership.
It was originally known as “Shaftesbury Fine Wines” to differentiate itself from Eldrige Pope’s off licence which was at the top of the hill. It changed hands in June 2009. Dropping the word “fine” was a difficult decision but a necessary one to make the environment less intimidating and more inviting. The quality and range has not decreased: you can still find a good range of fine Claret, Burgundy and vintage Port.
The aim of the shop is to offer an alternative to the tide of mass-produced wine and to champion individual producers making wine with a passion.
We have also built a wide range of super special spirits; the sort of stuff you don’t get in the supermarkets. We get pretty excited about it, especially the gin selection.
Dorset beer and cider is another little side-passion. There’s always something different.
David moved to Salisbury when he was about 8 years old and was later a boarder at the old Shaftesbury Grammar School back in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
After a 4 year degree in Metallurgical Engineering and the prospect of a career in a Midlands iron foundry he took a job instead in a small independent wine shop in Rutland where his interest in wine began and where he gained a distinction in the Wine & Spirit Education Trust higher certificate. He moved to Peter Dominic (when they were still wine merchants) and then to the revolutionary wine megastore “Drinksmart” where he completed the two-year WSET diploma course. His career moved to buying wine for the Co-op and then into marketing.
David took a year out to do an MBA (which he gained with a distinction again – the big swot) before joining Greenall’s off-licence division just before the management buy-out and the formation of Parisa Group.
He managed the marketing of their 600 shops for a few years before establishing business consultants Thornton Perry Associates, where he first registered the Campaign for Real Wine Ltd. This was all very well, but was moving too far away from his two great passions; Wine and Dorset.
In late 2008, when the younger of his daughters turned 18 and went off to university, he packed his bags, moved back south, enjoyed feeling like a tourist for a little while before buying the shop in Shaftesbury and is now happily back where he started in the wine trade well over 30 years ago.
During his career, David has had the opportunity to taste (and drink) thousands of different wines. On one occasion, as a judge in the International Wine Challenge, he tasted 125 in one session. More recently as a judge in the Independent Wine Merchant Top 100 he managed 75 before breakfast!
Both David and Alice regularly attend big tastings as well as having samples sent to the shop and, now and again, visiting vineyards and wineries around Europe. For every few hundred wines tasted only one or two will make it onto the shelves. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince…
You are also likely to meet David’s daughter and co-director Alice.
Alice graduated from The University of Birmingham with a first-class degree in Philosophy and was awarded a prestigious studentship for her postgraduate research at Reading. However, she eventually realised career academia isn’t as much fun as it sounds and made the wise decision to move to sunny South Wiltshire.
She honed her knowledge of real ale with Keystone Brewery and at CAMRA award winning freehouse The Benett Arms before joining David in the shop on a permanent basis.
Although Alice remains a beer and cider enthusiast, being David’s daughter means she has been exposed to real wine from an early age.
She is dedicated to furthering her wine knowledge (and her scary ability to retain trivia about producers and grapes mean she can sometimes tell you more about particular lines than David can!) and following an eye-opening trip to Germany with our friends at ABS Wine Agencies has become evangelical about the joys of dry Riesling and the much-maligned Silvaner grape.
Alice has been honoured to judge beer, cider and spirits at the Great Taste Awards since 2011 alongside Pete Brown, Charles Campion, Nigel Barden and a host of other critics and producers.