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“Passionate about wine and Worthing”

Lee Williams (The Grape), Roz Cloke (Partners In Wine) and Tom Flint (Bottle & Jug Dept)

The Worthing Wine Fair lands at the Guildbourne Centre on Saturday 4 December. Nick Mosley talks to co-organiser Tom Flint of Bottle & Jug Dept about what visitors can look forward to.

Where did the idea for the Worthing Wine Fair come from?

The idea popped into my head when I was walking along the seafront. I have always wanted to do more collaborative events in Worthing and as there are a great number of local wine businesses I thought a wine fair would be a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our businesses. Independent businesses are always really great at doing their own thing, but for a real scene to develop I feel that collaboration is key. It is great exposure for each of us, with our customers getting a chance to see what else is out there and try some incredible wines. It is a win win all round.

Are there any particular wines that visitors should keep an eye out for?

Well that would be telling, but we are all putting together a selection of top wines for Christmas for guests to try. Each of us will be picking 25 wines from sparkling through to sweet and fortified wines and focussing on wines that we feel represent us best as independent vintners and wine bars. You can expect everything from stone cold classics through to the more unusual and left-field options (mainly from me). We will also be promoting some local wines, with English sparkling definitely getting a strong showing.

What unifies you all as businesses?

We are four very different businesses but we are all passionate about wine and Worthing. We have all seen the potential in this town and love being here, and giving the people of Worthing the types of businesses that they can really be proud of. Partners In Wine and myself at Bottle & Jug Dept are retail based so we are all about providing superb variety and choice for people to enjoy at home. Wine and Reason and The Grape are both drink in venues with that strong hospitality focus, about fun times and making people welcome. Between the four of us, we think we can give the Worthing public a really memorable and enjoyable experience.

Are Worthing consumers continuing to support independents following the pandemic?

The pandemic has been tough on some more than others, and local businesses really stepped up during that time to keep giving people something to enjoy and I think people really appreciated that local community effort. On the flip side the large multi-nationals also saw it as an opportunity to diversify and really push their online offering. Times are difficult and when that happens it is natural to start pulling the purse strings a bit tighter. Local Independents cannot compete on price with large corporations, but what we offer is something more personal. Putting on events like the wine fair is our way to go the extra mile and provide something that you just don’t get when you shop online.

Do you think local interest is growing in quality wines?

Absolutely. I think people are becoming much more savvy when it comes to what they consume and during lockdown people started to spend a little more on wines to drink at home and noticed the difference. With the current discussions around climate change and the damaging effects of mass commercial farming on the environment, it makes an even stronger argument to buy better. Mass produced wines are low quality and damaging to the environment, we can make positive changes as consumers in all that we eat and drink. Buy local, and support local independent businesses who in turn support producers who are putting the planet before profit.

The Worthing Wine Fair is at the Guildbourne Centre, Worthing, on Saturday 4 December from noon-4pm. Advance tickets are £16.65 and available here


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