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Decanter Retailer Awards 2023: The winners

Decanter Retailer Awards (DRA) 2023 runners-up and winners for all categories have been unveiled, including new titles for Best UK Cellar Door, Winery Wine Club and Own Brand Wine Range, plus the best specialists, regional and national winners, online retailers and so much more. Discover who's made this year's list.

Our go-to guide for the finest wine shops, online retailers, wine specialists, subscriptions, cellar doors and wine services across the UK.

Wine is about people, and this year we wanted to bring increased recognition of this into these awards, hence introducing gongs for wine buyers and buying teams.

We’ve also added new categories for UK Cellar Doors and Winery Wine Clubs to recognise the exciting developments on those fronts.

Browse through these names, glass of wine in hand, and it’s hard not to feel a genuine sense of excitement, pride and awe at what these outstanding people are doing for wine in the UK. We should all raise a glass to them.

Scroll down to see the 2023 winners

Decanter Retailer Awards: The 2023 winners

Outstanding Wine Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society 
‘They’re the full package in terms of value, service and range,’ was one judge’s pithy summary of The Wine Society, worthy winner of the big gong. Delicious and diverse wines sourced by and outstanding buying team with a genuine commitment to value and service. Every wine lover should be a member.

Judges’ Choice of the Year

Winner: Tanners Wine Merchants 
Runner-up: Aspen & Meursault
As one judge put it, Tanners is ‘a great family business, a traditional merchant but with a modern twist – well worth discovering’. Aspen & Meursault represents an alternative approach: an innovative London hybrid wine bar and shop taking a refreshing and original approach to wine.

Supermarket of the Year

Winner: Marks & Spencer 
Runner-up: Waitrose & Partners Ltd
‘Great to see M&S back on form,’ said one judge, citing growing sales, an overhauled wine range featuring diversity as well as value, and much improved customer experience, including the introduction of Enomatic machines. Waitrose remains an excellent supermarket from which to buy wine.

National Wine Retailer of the Year

Winner: Majestic Wine 
Runner-up: Tanners Wine Merchants
It’s so encouraging to see Majestic getting back to where it belongs as a key player in nationwide UK retail. More shops, revamped wine ranges, charitable endeavours, excellent buyers, the focus on value and sustainability – ‘very impressive’. Tanners is an impressive operation with a ‘small merchant mentality’

Small Online Retailer of the Year

Winner: Perfect Cellar 
Runner-up: The Sourcing Table
In a strong field, Perfect Cellar was praised for its very ‘swish new site, direct sourcing, virtual sommelier, interesting app and growing range’. ‘They’re engaging well with a younger generation,’ said one judge. The Sourcing Table also drew much praise for its well-designed site and emphasis on education and events.

Midsize Online Retailer of the Year

Winner: House of Townend 
Runner-up: Swig Wines Ltd
Another competitive set saw House of Townend recognised for its ‘very active’ year, from launching a new website loyalty scheme and improvements on the considerable wine range via reducing bottle weights and investing in solar panels. Swig has an engaging site and an ‘excellent, eclectic’ list.

Large Online Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society 
Runner-up: Naked Wines
‘Gold-plated brilliance’ won it for The Wine Society. A user-friendly site packed with ways to engage and buy excellent wine across a huge range is allied to outstanding service and ‘incredible value’. Naked Wines also remains a popular option and has continued to innovate.

Hybrid Wine Retailer of the Year

Winner: Humble Grape
Runner up: Vagabond
Humble Grape is a dynamic, fast evolving business offering delicious, often adventurous wines in an enjoyable, accessible atmosphere. An almost entirely direct-sourced range continues to grow just like the business and the events.

Green Champion of the Year

Winner: Direct Wines
Runner-up: The Wine Society
This is always one of the closest-fought, most intriguing categories to judge. Strong opinions flew – Direct Wines (owner of UK retail arms Laithwaites Wine and Averys) won thanks to its ‘comprehensive’ action plan across many aspects of the business, from packaging to transport, training and biodiversity. The Wine Society has similarly impressed this year for its leadership and outstanding work on sustainability.

Newcomer of the Year

Winner: Amphora Cambridge Ltd
Runner-up: Jesmond Wine Company
Cambridge merchant Amphora opened in 2022 but has hit the ground running to such an extent that you hardly believe it’s so young. ‘Seriously impressive for such a new player on the scene,’ said one judge. ‘Great range, brave choices, lots of wines by the glass,’ added another. Jesmond is an excellent new wine shop in Newcastle.

Own Brand Wine Range of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society
Runner-up: Marks & Spencer
The Wine Society won among many strong entries for not only the impressive breadth and depth of its 83-strong The Society range but also its willingness to innovate, as seen in its revamped packaging including right-weighting of bottles and the introduction of ‘bag in box’ for key lines. M&S earned praise for its ambitious Collection line, encouraging customers to trade up.

Virtual Wine Experience of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society
Runner-up: The Online Tasting Company
While it’s been a joy to resume normal life and wine events in person, there remains a demand for virtual wine experiences. The Wine Society delivers an impressive range and quantity of virtual wine events that is ‘in a league of its own’, according to one judge. The Online Tasting Co also continues to do good work in this sphere.

Regional Categories

Best Regional Multi-Store – London

Winner: Jeroboams 
Runner-up: Lea & Sandeman
‘New stores, regular events, refitting old shops, new own-labels, great Italian list, a genuine focus on staff wellbeing, good internally and externally.’ ‘They continue to move forward – impressive.’ Such were the judges’ comments about Jeroboams, which continues its impressive march in London. Lea & Sandeman was deemed ‘a great asset’ for London, with a great range and excellent events.

Best Regional Multi-Store – North West England

Winner: D. Byrne & Co Fine Wines Ltd 
Judges noted the development in historic Clitheroe merchant D Byrne’s £10-£20 range, as well as how it is settling into its new-look existence post-pandemic. The historic shop (pictured, p84) is now paired with a converted warehouse, and there’s a redeveloped website coming soon.

Best Regional Multi-Store – Central England

Winner: Cambridge Wine Merchants 
Runner-up: The Wee Vinoteca
There was a lot of love from the judges for Cambridge Wine Merchants. Comments included: ‘they don’t sit on their laurels – always busy, lots of passion’; ‘innovative, constantly reinventing themselves, engaging with customers in different ways’; ‘something for everyone, suits all wallets’; and, simply, ‘terrific’. The Wee Vinoteca is growing fast.

Best Regional Multi-Store – South East England

Winner: The Vineking 
The Vineking was praised for a list that is, ‘appealing in its simplicity’, but that also has plenty of interest for the wine lover, from Greece to Roussillon. Mention was also made of plentiful events and a focus on value.

Best Regional Multi-Store – Scotland

Winner: Woodwinters Wine & Whiskies 
At the heart of WoodWinters’ offering lies a huge range, with great diversity across styles, regions and prices. Its Inverness store was relocated across the road last year to increase the range – and offer a better environment for customer.

Best Regional Wine Shop – Central England

Winner: Hattersley Wines 
One judge summed it up nicely: ‘If you want to get beyond Bakewell tarts in the Peak District, Hattersley is an impressive wine merchant, with an upgraded store and strong particularly on South Africa and Bordeaux.’

Best Regional Wine Shop – North West England

Winner: Carringtons Wines 
Manchester is lucky to have Carringtons, a treasure trove of largely direct-sourced wines, often sourced from smaller or organic producers and particularly strong on the Rhône.

Best Regional Wine Shop – North East England

Winner: Bon Coeur Fine Wines 
Runner-up: House of Townend
A hard-fought category saw Yorkshire merchant Bon Coeur win through for its emphasis on direct sourcing, an expanded range and plenty of activities and events to engage customers. ‘Something for everyone,’ commented one judge. Melton-based House of Townend also ‘does a great job’.

Best Regional Wine Shop – South East England

Winner: Brunswick Fine Wines & Spirits 
Brunswick’s new shop in the heart of Regency Brighton is impressive in its decor and wine range. This is definitely fine wine territory, but the operation isn’t aloof, hosting regular tastings and ‘meet the winemaker’ sessions, also supporting local charities.

Best Regional Wine Shop – South West England

Winner: Old Chapel Cellars 
Runner-up: EW Wines
Truro-based B Corp business Old Chapel Cellars impressed with its ‘unwavering’ focus on sustainability allied to an excellent range (perhaps something to do with its connection to former merchant Laymont & Shaw). Previous winner and fellow Cornwall merchant Ellis Wharton continues to invest and improve.

Best Regional Wine Shop – Wales

Winner: Noble Grape 
Runner-up: Fine Wines Direct UK
Though Noble Grape is essentially a one-man band, it’s also a ‘considerable force’ with an excellent range – owner Richard Ballantyne MW deserves credit for continuing to push the business forward, including ensuring 100% of wines are now online. Cardiff-based Fine Wines Direct has achieved a lot this year, including the introducion of Enomatic tasting machines.

Best Regional Wine Shop – Scotland

Winner: Cockburns of Leith
Runner-up: St Andrews Wine Shop
While the revived Cockburns of Leith only opened recently in Edinburgh, business is brisk – testament to a rejuvenated range and admirable focus on customer satisfaction. St Andrews Wine Co continues to make wine fun and engaging for its customers.

Best Regional Wine Shop – Northern Ireland

Winner: James Nicholson Wine 
Runner-up: KWM Wine & Spirits
Excellent service, wide range (mostly direct-sourced and continuing to diversify, for example into Syria) along with an efficient operation make Crossgar-based James Nicholson a ‘worthy winner’, to quote one judge. KWM is a personable smaller merchant based in Kilkeel, also County Down, with an impressive focus on value.

Best Regional Wine Shop – London

Winner: Highbury Vintners 
Runner-up: Noble Green Wines
According to one judge, ‘Highbury Vintners is exactly what you want from your neighbourhood wine merchant, offering a great range, with very proactive, educated staff… what every high street should have!’ Not only that, they’ve continued to innovate and find new ways to engage with their customer base. Noble Green is a great place to buy your wine.

Best London Neighbourhood Wine Shop

Winner: The Wine Tasting Shop 
Judges noted the enthusiasm and diverse range on offer at this Balham-based wine shop and bar. An ambitious sourcing program, engaging events and community support bodes well.

UK Winery Categories

UK Cellar Door of the Year

Winner: Gusbourne 
Runner-up: Ashling Park
Wine tourism is a big deal in GB wine right now and many wineries offer great visits. Gusbourne’s ‘The Nest’ opens seven days a week, offering tours, experiences, sales and on-premise drinking – and receives up to 15,000 visits a year. It’s an impressive offering, with new facilities on the way. Ashling Park also makes an excellent visit, with good food, accommodation and activities.

UK Winery Wine Club of the Year

Winner: Ridgeview 
Runner-up: Gusbourne
Ridgeview’s OurView wine club is simple, accessible and engaging, encouraging its members to experiment, visit and generally get involved in English wine. Gusbourne was commended for ‘raising the bar for English wine’.

Retail Wine Buyer Categories 

UK Wine Buyer of the Year

Winner: Sophie Lord (Virgin Wines
Runner up: Elizabeth Kelly MW (Majestic Wine) and James Goodhart (Bon Coeur Fine Wines)
One judge described Sophie Lord as ‘a great role model’ for those in the wine trade, having worked her way up from customer services to head of buying: a tireless wine professional who leads by example and is a real team player. Elizabeth Kelly MW is doing an outstanding job at Majestic, while James Goodhart has achieved great things at Bon Coeur.

UK Wine Buying Team of the Year

Winner: The Wine Society 
Runner-up: Majestic Wine
The Wine Society’s buying team is ‘something to behold’, in the words of one judge, a mix of youth and experience but with an unparalleled wealth of expertise, excellent personal relationships with producers and a laser focus on the product. Truly an example among wine retailers. Majestic’s team, meanwhile, ‘goes from strength to strength’.

Specialist Categories

Australia Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Vinorium 
‘You feel secure buying from them, they know what they’re doing – the range is fantastic and it was a pleasure using the website,’ said one judge of The Vinorium. ‘Great range and depth,’ said another.

Bordeaux Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Bordeaux Index
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
In the words of one judge, Bordeaux Index is a retailer ‘revitalised – now the full package’, offering not only a huge range of fine wine but also a wealth of information on Bordeaux and beyond. Justerini has done a good job not just offering top châteaux but also championing lesser names.

Burgundy Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Justerini & Brooks
Runner-up: House of Townend
Specialising in Burgundy can prove a double-edged sword, but Justerini & Brooks continues to demonstrate great intent, visiting regularly to maintain relationships with high-profile names and discover new up-and-coming estates. It remains a benchmark for Burgundy in the UK. House of Townend sources 90% of its Burgundy directly, to great effect.

Central & Eastern Europe Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Novel Wines
Runner-up: Amphora Cambridge Ltd
Novel Wines continues to impress, having expanded its range (again), redeveloped its website, grown the team, upped direct shipping and laid on an impressive number of events. Amphora has done impressive work in this category for such a new operation.

Champagne & Sparkling Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Whisky Exchange
Runner-up: Lea & Sandeman
In what’s always a highly competitive category, The Whisky Exchange won for its extensive range, impressive growth, ‘clear passion’ for fizz, and commitment to events including the annual Champagne Show. Lea & Sandeman has been doing ‘outstanding, brilliant, ongoing’ work on its Champagne offering, having revamped the range and focused on smaller growers.

England & Wales Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Corkk Ltd
Runner-up: Waitrose & Partners Ltd 
Corkk was praised for being ‘really dynamic, and doing a lot to promote English wines’, including hosting events and offering tastings via Enomatic machine, ‘which is important when wines can not only be new to people but also expensive and hit-and-miss’. Waitrose continues to do great work for English and Welsh wine.

Germany Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Howard Ripley Wines
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
Great to see three outstanding German retailers in this category. Hard to separate them, but Howard Ripley continues to innovate, grow and engage its customers, with a terrific range. Justerini also offers a brilliant German line-up from Riesling to Pinot Noir and beyond.

Italy Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Bat & Bottle Wine Merchants
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
‘With Bat and Bottle you just feel the love for what they do, the passion for the wines,’ enthused one judge. ‘It’s a very broad range from the head to heel of Italy,’ commented another, noting the extensive events, courses, updated website, vintage reports, and adding: ‘You wonder where the hell they get the time to do all that and offer such a personable service.’ Justerini continues to excel in Italy.

Loire Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Majestic Wine
Making admirable progress across a number of regions, Majestic offers surprising value and breadth of range across the Loire Valley, from Muscadet to Montlouis and more.

New Zealand Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Field and Fawcett 
York merchant Field & Fawcett offers an impressive breadth of styles and price points in the New Zealand category, perhaps a result of the ‘deep connection’ this merchant has with the country given owner and director Peter Fawcett has dual citizenship. It even sells a ‘Vandal’ Sauvignon Blanc co-fermented with New Zealand Bluff oysters…

Portugal Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Festa Wine
Runner-up: Vintage Wine and Port Ltd
Very exciting to see a new specialist Portuguese player on the scene like Festa, offering not just an adventurous, approachable range but also a successful consumer festival to boot, at a time when Portuguese wine seems to be, in the words of one judge, ‘having a moment’ in the UK. Vintage Wine & Port does a great job with a huge range.

Rhône Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Carringtons
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks
Carringtons isn’t the biggest merchant but it does a cracking job on Rhône, with great expertise, 97% shipped direct, and the range bolstered by the owner’s personal cellar when needed. Justerini has a lipsmacking Rhône range and continues to do a good job.

South & Regional France Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Wickhams 
Wickhams has done excellent work this past year on Beaujolais and also beyond, with two-thirds direct sourcing and the category accounting for a fifth of sales.

South Africa Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Swig Wines Ltd
Runner-up: Museum Wines
Excitement comes as standard in the South Africa category, and Swig is doing a brilliant job of not just securing seriously exciting wines but also then promoting and selling them to receptive customers. Museum Wines remains a shining beacon for South African wines in the UK.

Spain Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Justerini & Brooks
Runner-up: Highbury Vintners
Justerini has revamped many of its supposedly lesser-speciality ranges lately, but few to such stellar effect as Spain – wine lovers should take note, especially given the diversity and value of the wines now on offer. Highbury offers an excellent and diverse Spanish range.

Sweet & Fortified Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Cambridge Wine Merchants  
Runner-up: Vintage Wine & Port Ltd
Cambridge Wine offers a treasure trove of wines across the sweet as well as fortified ranges – the category accounting for nearly a fifth of sales and a traditional strong point for this retailer. Vintage Wine & Port is a true specialist and outstanding in its field.

USA Specialist Retailer of the Year

Winner: Four Corners Wine Company Ltd
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks 
Four Corners is a true specialist with a 500-strong California list and doing an excellent job for a smaller player. Justerini has revamped its US portfolio to brilliant effect.

Wine Support Services

En Primeur Campaign of the Year

Winner: Jeroboams (Bordeaux Campaign)
Runner-up: Justerini & Brooks (Burgundy Campaign)
Two strong entries in this category, and Jeroboams impressed with the range of its Bordeaux campaign, not just in terms of châteaux but also formats and second wines, plus an engaging approach to marketing including targeting a younger clientele. Justerini ran a strong Burgundy campaign featuring not just the grand names but also ‘unsung heroes’.

Subscription Wine Club of the Year

Winner: Ourglass & Partners Ltd
Runner-up: Bat & Bottle Wine Merchants
The self-stated aim of Ourglass is, ‘to turn wine drinkers into wine lovers’. Judges were impressed by the userfriendly and comprehensive nature of the subscription offering, complete with assigned wine professional, videos and various thematic levels. Bat and Bottle offers a highly personal, accessible and affordable service.

The 2023 judging panel

  • Peter Richards MW is an awarded writer and broadcaster, including as co-host of the chart-topping Wine Blast podcast. He is the DWWA Regional Chair for Chile, and Chair of our Retailer Awards since 2013
  • Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW is a widely published wine writer, consultant and WSET educator. She is a regular contributor to Decanter, and is the DWWA Regional Chair for Tuscany
  • Laura Clay is a council member of the Association of Wine Educators, an experienced wine presenter and accredited Bordeaux and Rioja tutor, and was UK Champagne Ambassador in 2010
  • Leona De Pasquale is a wine educator, writer and translator. Founder of London-based tea and wine training and events company Camellia & Vine, she also teaches at various wine schools including the WSET London
  • Andy Howard MW is a Decanter contributing editor and a DWWA Regional Chair. A former wine buyer in major retail for more than 30 years, he now runs his own wine consultancy Vinetrades
  • Simon Field MW was formerly a buyer for merchant Berry Bros & Rudd and now consults on areas that particularly interest him, including Champagne, Rhône, Spain, fortified and English wines
  • Mags Janjo is director of his own company MJ Wine Cellars, importing niche, smallbatch wines, creating brands for UK retailers, and offering wine education and consultancy services

In support of the drinks community, for a fourth year proceeds from the 2023 awards will again be donated to nominated charities including charities The Drinks TrustThe Ben and The Regenerative Viticulture Foundation.

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