Many will agree that equestrian life and a bottle of wine sit quite comfortably together! With her wine background and love of horses, Sarah Whitford decided to set up the Wriggly Tin Wine Co, a home delivery service bringing top quality wine to your door.
Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Sarah to find out more about the personality behind the Wriggly Tine Wine Co:-
You have a strong passion for equestrian life. Were you brought up in this environment as a child?
I grew up in the New Forest so ponies were all around us. It took a few years of me galloping around the house with my hobby horse until my parents finally gave in and sent me for riding lessons. They bought me my first pony when I was 11 and we spent all our time riding bareback in the New Forest jumping the heather bales, gorse bushes and going to the beach at Calshot.
What were your childhood ambitions? Did you head to college or university or straight to the working world?
I didn’t have a clue what to do when I left school, I spent a few years as an air hostess and then worked in bars and restaurants before taking a job with a brewery selling beer. My parents owned a wine bar so wine was always in my blood and I transferred to the wine side of the brewery, selling wine to pubs, restaurants and hotels.
Your current business is the wonderfully named The Wriggly Tin Wine Co. Tell us why you chose that name?
It came about a bit by accident, we moved into our house just over 10 years ago and with it inherited a ramshackle old barn. I wanted it dismantled but my husband, Steve, thought it would be useful so repaired it and tidied it up. Over the years it’s had all kinds of purposes; we’ve used it as stables for the horses and stored bikes, logs and all manner of other equipment in it. We always called it the Wriggly Tin Barn, and as the perfect place for us to convert to our wine store, the name was obvious from there.
What were the reasons for shifting direction into the wine business? What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own wine company?
I left the wine industry when we moved to Lincolnshire in 2007 and since then have been more and more frustrated by what wine the supermarkets have to offer. It’s so mass produced and the shops have no identity with the wine they sell. One afternoon a few of the girls and I were having a glass of wine (obviously!) around the kitchen table and we started talking about wine, they were fascinated to know more of what I knew. They asked if I could select wines for them and come along to dinner parties to discuss them. So that’s where it all began really!
We’re in our third year of trading now and at the beginning, we tried all channels to sell our wines, (website, Amazon, tastings, shows, face to face) now we are getting to know what works for us and our clients, and the future is looking a lot more simplistic.
Do you think the equestrian and wine industry can sit together easily?
I know for sure that after a hard day on the yard there’s nothing like putting your feet up with a nice glass of wine. People with horses have very little time/desire to go to the shops and spend hours wondering what to pick but want to make sure they have something nice in the pantry to enjoy at the end of the day, to share with friends over an impromptu supper or to serve at dinner parties.
With our home delivery service, flexibility to react to people’s wants and needs, and extras like pairing tips and advice when people are looking for a wine, I’m certain there’s a companionship to be had. We’re already seeing it in our home county from people we know!
How has your equestrian experience and knowledge helped sell the wine “lifestyle” through your company?
A horse doesn’t just arrive at a competition with all the tools to win. There are hours of training and hard work that go into them, and even with all the training in place sometimes it doesn’t quite work out on the day. Wine is a bit like that, you can have a passionate, knowledgeable winemaker with all the right tools but if the weather hasn’t been good there’s only so much they can do on the day.
This is what I like about wines they change all the time, some years are better than others and sometimes they are extraordinary. Plus, I know what it’s like after a day out in the mud, wind and rain with a tricky horse, sometimes a good glass of wine is just what you need!
What are your future plans and goals for The Wriggly Tin Wine Co?
We’d like people to feel that they don’t just buy wine from us, they buy the story of the bottle, what we think and know of the wine, and where it fits into their lifestyle.
One of our biggest goals is to get to know our clients and what they like so we can make personalised recommendations throughout the year. We’ve just launched our Kings membership club and this is a big part of what we offer, the personal touch is what we pride ourselves on. Knowing what people want, when they want it, sometimes even before they do!
On a day off, where would we find you?
On the yard with my horses or at an event, if I’ve had time to get them fit. Otherwise, I’ll be in the kitchen cooking.
Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? In a lovely French villa in the Loire with my feet up and a great glass of wine in hand!
Against the Clock
Equines or Canines: Hard one – can’t choose has to be both
Red, White or Rose: White
Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate all day long
Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine
Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home
Spend or Save: Spend
Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooked
Music or Film: Music
Wellies or Heels: Wellies
Sarah Whitford is Founder, Partner and Chief Wine Taster at The Wriggly Tin Wine Company based in Lincolnshire, delivering to people, pubs and restaurants nationwide. Her other passion is horses and you’ll often spot her judging at national show jumping competitions.
To keep up to date on special offers or to become a member of Kings, The Wriggly Tin Wine members club, and receive 20-40% off all wines, visit www.wrigglytinwine.co.uk
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