I set up The Vineking in 2003 from the proverbial kitchen table, having worked for a series of great but more traditional merchants, I wanted to do something different. The idea was to provide a more specialist retail offering, with the knowledge that there were customers out there who wanted delicious, rather than industrial wines. From the very outset, The Vineking motto has been “great wines, no nonsense” and this concept has been our guiding light.
Over the years I have managed to persuade many other like-minded souls to The Vineking Banner and having the right people is key. We might appear to be a little haphazard in our recruiting style (read on!) but it sure seems to have worked so far and my thanks go to all those who have joined me in the past too, as each one has helped make The Vineking, what it is today.
The joy of wine is an ever-changing subject, so join us and hop on board for a great vinous journey!
Having completed a Post Grad in the History of Warfare, I joined The Vineking on the frontline, in the vans. I quickly rose through the ranks to the role of Logistical Officer, where I helped Erik steer and guide The Vineking through the tricky, recessional waters until mid-2011.
Following what felt like an all too brief year-out, I returned to the fray in 2012, bought into the business, and since then, have occupied the role of Director of Operations. Having studied the greats like Napoleon, Cesar and Sun Tzu, you get to realise battles are won or lost on logistics. So leaving Erik to concentrate on the buying and selling, since 2012 onwards I have been looking after the “nuts” and “bolts” of the business; I’s dotted, T’s crossed, wine uplifted, delivered, money collected and bills paid…..and I don’t even drink!
I’ve been working at The Vineking for far too long to remember, in fact I think I’ve been here longest, after Erik of course! My first real wine tasting experience was visiting producers in Burgundy at the age of 12 at the side of my father, from which a seed was sown.
Since then I have worked as the Assistant Manager of Harrods Wine Department, and have been a Sales Representative for a number of Wine Wholesalers in London. Somewhere back in the heady days of the 90’s I met Erik at La Reserve in London. I realised I had found a kindred spirit in wine, food, if not opposing musical tastes and enjoying all three until the early hours of the morning, on far too many occasions.
So, when back in 2009 Erik asked me to join him on this particular journey, I was delighted to help, especially having just moved to Reigate. Most importantly, during my time in the wine trade I have tasted an awful lot of wine and love real wines from the classic regions of Italy and France in particular.
Based at the ever popular West Road shop, do come and see me, where we’ll no doubt discuss the joy of wine, the fortunes of Liverpool F.C. and all to the background of Frank Sinatra, Abba or maybe some Rainbow (Something Erik and I can both agree on!).
I joined the Vineking in late 2012, coming from a background in hospitality where I looked after weddings, events and restaurants etc. The funny thing was, I only popped into The Vineking, to pick up a couple of cigars to toast my cousin’s first child and twenty minutes later, I left with a job. I maintain, it is Erik’s greatest upsell!
So, seizing upon my previous hospitality experience, I quickly became involved in setting up and running Reigate’s Pop-Up Restaurants, whilst also taking on the role as no.2 in Reigate’s Church Street shop. Soon, convinced I might know what I was doing, I was left to run the store as manager and it’s all worked out pretty well!
Please contact me for any event management needs you might have, from the simplest “how much booze do I need” to us even running the whole event for you. We can look after anything from a perfect private dinner or an entire wedding.
In a past life, I had 15 years in the original incarnation of Oddbins, so this is part two of my interrupted wine career. Most of the interval was spent working in the golf industry. I'm enjoying being back in the fold, where small is beautiful, yet we still retain plans for world domination!
I regard myself very much as a generalist on the vinous front, although I do have a slight predilection for all things Italian due to an accident of birth. I'm also very proud of my status as the only grandfather at the Vineking.
I walked into The Vineking Weybridge shop in April 2014, bumped into both Erik & Richard, asked if the advertised vacancy was still available, had a quick interview and was asked if I could do the lock up for that evening…….!
Originally from Poland, I have spent the past 15 years in the London’s busy catering industry, managing clubs, member’s bars and restaurants. It was here I discovered
my passion for wine that I have furthered here at The Vineking and by working in a shop just around the corner from home, meant I could reinstate something called, a social life, when I’m not running Pop Up Restaurants, Tastings etc
I love talking about wine, selling wine, wanting to know more about this fascinating subject, that I like to call magic juice and passing this on to you, my lovely customers!
I could not have found a better place to begin my journey in being a wine merchant, with this amazing, professional and knowledgeable team (you all owe me £5 each boys!).
Although I have spent most of my professional life in education, I also ran my own wine business importing French regional wines. This enabled me to visit many ‘vignerons indépendants’ across France and learn a lot about vinification, regional differences and most importantly…terroir. As well as this, I got to taste some brilliant wines!
Since joining The Vineking in 2012 I have loved discovering there is a plethora of great wines made across the rest of the world too. However, you can take a man out of Beaujolais but not Beaujolais out of the man and my personal favourites remains their wonderful aged Crus.
After completeing a PhD in Architectural theory, being a professional knitter and spending eight years in the food industry a move into wine seemed like the only logical step. I took my first two WSET exams whilst desperately trying to convince Erik to give me a job. Fortunately my seemingly random set of skills didn't put him off, and here I am.
Despite childhood trips to Bordeaux it was in Italy that I fell in love with wine. The hills of Montepulciano are my spiritual home, and so I'm most likely to be hanging out near our Italian section singing the praises of sangiovese, nebbiolo and vernaccia to anyone who'll listen. I am beginning to branch out however, and have been discovering a taste for carignan and cabernet.
When not quaffing a glass of Tuscan red my other passion is spirits. Although my first love will always be artisan gin (I'm Church Street's resident gin lush according to the other staff) I have recently fallen for both bourbon and rye and my obsession with flavour combination and mixology has lead me to making my own bitters in pursuit of the perfect Manhattan.
When not fronting up the shelves in Reigate I can be found making a mess in my small kitchen testing the seasonal dishes I create as a freelance recipe developer.
After 17 years in insurance and recruitment in the City Richard fell in to the vat that is the wine trade a decade ago. He ensured that a multiple high street retailer trained him up and paid for him to pass his WSET exams before repaying their generosity and leaving to join one of the pioneering fine wine brokers in west London. Though the commute was long the experience was invaluable but unfortunately the financial crisis of 2008 brought a halt to temporary fine wine buying and Richard returned to Surrey in search of a company where he could further hone his skills. Fortunately the Vineking were looking to expand and Richard became their first Private Client Sales person. However the lure of Fine Wine Investment was too much and in 2011 he went to to work for a Bordeaux specialist in Redhill and then Horsham where he covered sales, new business and marketing. Erik has lured him back and he is now only the second employee to return to the fold.