George Osborne promised to build a ‘northern powerhouse’ and then scuttled off to edit the London Evening Standard, but the wine trade is still well and truly waving the northern flag.
Suppliers are sometimes accused of being too London-centric when putting on trade tastings, so eight of the UK’s leading agencies and importers have teamed up to launch The Northern Lights.
This tasting targets northern indies and wholesalers targeting the on-trade and takes place at the former headquarters of the Tetley brewery in Leeds on 15 May.
When the tastings do creep out of the London heartland it is often to Manchester, but the suppliers decided to give Leeds – one of the four key ‘northern powerhouse’ cities along with Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield – a bit of love.
The suppliers taking part are Delibo Wine Agencies, Dreyfus Ashby, Gonzalez Byass, Hatch Mansfield, Marta Vine, New Generation McKinley, Richmond Wine Agencies and Winetraders.
‘It’s something I’ve been discussing with a number of wine trade colleagues who cover the North for some time,’ Julia Langshaw, sales account manager at New Generation McKinley, told Imbibe.
‘Manchester has often been the chosen location for tastings based outside of London and we thought it would be a nice change to bring the focus across to Leeds. It’s a vibrant city with a lot going on, and the surrounding towns are home to a number of well-respected retailers and wholesalers so hopefully we’ll get a good turnout.
‘Once we knew we wanted to be in Leeds it was quite easy to find a good venue. The Tetley is a great location and has a great history. Organising a tasting in a brewery has been very straight forward.’
We will resist making any jokes about piss-ups and breweries.
Langshaw added that the group would consider hosting more events around the UK in a bid to reach smaller operators that do not wish to travel down to The Big Smoke. She said the reaction from the trade has been very positive and is expecting a strong turnout.
Langshaw hopes the name Northern Lights will conjure up images of bright and exciting rising stars. ‘The eight suppliers are working together to make sure the champagnes, wines and spirits that we show complement each other, so the customers shouldn’t see too much repetition,’ she said.
‘There won’t be a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on every table. We’ll be showing between 20 and 30 products per agent, each focusing on one or two areas of particular strengths within our portfolios to ensure the tasting has a very diverse and balanced feel. It will be a tasting of crafted wines from passionate producers, that all shine brightly.’
When asked how important it is to hold trade tastings, she said: ‘They still hold some importance in the industry, especially outside London. Perhaps in and around London people are spoilt for choice with tastings taking place all the time, but outside London events are few and far between and it makes a nice change from driving hundreds of miles with a boot full of samples. It’s a good chance to catch up with colleagues and for customers to taste a wider selection of products under one roof.’