Waitrose consultant Julian Brind MW has died aged 68.
Brind, who died of a heart attack on Sunday 19 December, was an integral part of the Waitrose wine buying team from 1971 until 2010.
He started in the wine trade as a management trainee at Brown & Pank, part of Watney Mann Breweries, and moved into buying wine under the guidance of Don Lovell MW, who put him forward for the Vintners’ Scholarship, which he was awarded in 1967.
He passed the Master of Wine exam in 1970, and joined Waitrose in 1971, where for more than 30 years he was instrumental in evolving the wine department.
He laid the foundations for a wine business which for many people remains the benchmark in the industry and resulted in numerous industry awards and accolades.
Although retired, Julian still worked with Waitrose on a consultancy basis and came in weekly to taste wines for quality control.
He also was still fully involved in wine education and deeply committed to the industry, sitting on the Port and Madeira panel for the Decanter World Wine Award, as well as many other panels.
Waitrose wine buyer Pierpaolo Petrassi MW said, ‘He will be sadly missed by many both at Waitrose and in the wider drinks industry as an an inspirational figure for the trade, a dedicated colleague, a fearsomely competitive racquet sports player, a wonderful mentor and great personal friend to many.’
Another senior buyer, Nick Room, paid tribute to Brind’s ‘masterly direction’ of the Waitrose wine department while ‘stoutly upholding the John Lewis Partnership’s principles of integrity and fair play’.
He pointed out that Brind ordered one of the first consignments of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in 1973, ‘long before it became anything like fashionable’.
‘[He was] always motivated by the desire to find new wines that continue to make Waitrose different, whilst maintaining the customer favourites which were the bedrock of the range. He inspired his team with an eagerness to learn more about wine, indeed his enthusiasm for the subject was continually infectious.
‘His manner was impeccable in his dealings with the biggest established suppliers, but he revelled in nurturing the smaller artisanal producer, many of whom still retain a secure foothold within the Waitrose range’
In a statement Waitrose said, ‘Julian was a true gentleman and his incredible knowledge of wine combined with superb retail acumen made him a charismatic figure who was respected throughout the industry.’
He leaves his wife Charlotte, four children and many grandchildren.
Written by Adam Lechmere