Tasting notes with Broadland Wineries
PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:08 01 March 2016
Welcome to the new monthly wine column from Broadland Wineries. Introduces the Cawston-based business and its Director of Wine Dr Arabella Woodrow
IF YOU were asked to name some of the great wine-producing areas of the world, you’d be unlikely to include north Norfolk.
But a winery that has been trading for more than half a century from a small village near Aylsham is going from strength to strength, and has recently added an international bent to its business.
Broadland Wineries, based in Cawston, began life in 1965 and had early success as a producer of fruit wines.
Dr Arabella Woodrow, the company’s Director of Wine, says: “A lot of people wonder why a modern winery is tucked away in a small village in north Norfolk. The reason is it began life making fruit wines, which were very popular from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, and its location meant it had good access to orchards and all the fruits it needed.”
Historically, by and large there wasn’t the right climate for growing grapes sustainably in the UK, so Broadland Wineries later began bottling bulk imported wines for wine importers.
“They needed somewhere to bottle it, and that became a major part of our business,” says Arabella, who became a Master of Wine in 1986 – only the 14th woman to do so.
But when some of the importers began to struggle, the company decided that contract bottling was not a sustainable part of its business, so a few years ago it moved away from that side of things and started to bring in its own imported wine.
Arabella has been with Broadland Wineries for three years. She travels the world hand-selecting wines, and nothing is launched without passing her stringent checks.
When she joined the company, imports came from the New World but the portfolio has now been extended to include European wines. There has also been a widening of the client base.
When Broadland Wineries began selling its own imported wines, its clients were the major supermarkets.
“But the major supermarkets are very competitive, and if you rely on them for your business and you lose one of those, it can be serious,” says Arabella.
As a result, the company makes “private label” wine in small batches and has its own new brands. The customer base now includes chains of pubs, hotels, restaurants and wine retailers.
Meanwhile, a direct online business was also set up about 18 months ago, and that has seen month-on-month growth. Some of its customers are people who have enjoyed the company’s wines while on holiday but can’t always find them when they get back home.
The latest development has been to expand overseas, with wine now supplied to New York State and an office being opened in Sweden recently.
Not many business cards list Cawston, Stockholm and New York, but it’s all about diversity.
“We’re thinking way outside the usual boxes,” Arabella says.