The late Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell has launched his own range of wines – and Americans are queuing round the block to get hold of them.
Royal Butler Wines – an Australian Chardonnay, Shiraz and sparkling rose – are on sale in Publix supermarkets in Florida.
‘Our distributor [the National Distributing Company] says one bottle is selling every 20 seconds,’ said Seamus Quigley of Vintage Wine Management, Burrell’s US-based global sales and marketing agency.
‘They say they’ve never seen anything like it. There is a lot of curiosity about the royal family here. I think the film The Queen has helped.’
Made by winemaker Philip John at Hunter Valley winery Hungerford Hill, the 2006 vintage –100,000 cases – costs US$12 (£6) a bottle for the Chardonnay and Shiraz, and US$18 (£9) for sparkling rosé.
Burrell (pictured), who Diana referred to as her ‘rock’, worked for the British royal family for over 20 years. His life since the princess’s death in 1997 he has not been without controversy. In 2002, after the sensational collapse of a £1.5m trial, he was cleared of stealing from the royal estate.
He has also published a series of books dealing with his life with the royal family, and in 2004 he was a runner up on the UK TV reality show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
Burrell’s wines are being promoted as part of a range of Royal Butler-branded products – including furniture, rugs and china which sell through outlets like the Home Shopping Network.
Burrell was involved in all aspects of developing the wine, from choosing the blends, to the labels which reflect a country garden theme. ‘The Chardonnay label features sweet pea, Princess Diana’s favourite flower,’ Quigley said.
He added that Burrell was uniquely placed to inspire confidence in the consumer, who would ‘feel comfortable’ bringing home a wine called Royal Butler.
‘It makes sense. Who better to buy wine from than someone who chose wine for kings and queens for so many years?’
Quigley, who also distributes Fishcage, Heavy Metal and Higher Octave wines from Hungerford Hill – and is working on a wine project with U2 frontman and social campaigner Bono – said he hoped to expand Royal Butler into all major US markets, as well as possibly Germany and the UK later this year.
Burrell is also working on a line of California wines called Royal Butler Jewels.
Written by Maggie Rosen