Inspired by some of my favorite musicians who often favored rural village tours over big city stages, we hit the road in rural England. And I think it was a huge success. Our UK Villages Tour was short but awesome. It’s definitely a concept I want to pursue further!
What is the UK Villages Tour?
We used my importer’s website to find people that were organizing rural wine tastings in the UK, and I offered to show up in person. This year was a quick trial run, and it went really well. We spotted two tastings happening the same week in Oxfordshire and Cumbria and all I had to do was hop over on a RyanAir flight from Carcassonne to Stanstead.
These were tastings where the organizers had pooled money from the group and bought a large quantity of wine from Naked Wines already. Compare that to other tastings where it is often up to the winemaker to furnish the wine, the structure, the organization, etc. On the Villages Tour, people are already paying for wine and they are really appreciative that you’re coming, so they put up room and board and travel.
How did it go?
It went very very well. But don’t take my word for it.
Here is photographic evidence:
Phil Hardy’s photo album of the Windemere trip.
Here are some reviews posted on Naked Wines’ site:
“Thanks for organizing such a good evening on Wednesday – he’s quite a character! I thought the wines were, overall, the best selection we have enjoyed at any of the Club’s meetings. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.”
“Last Wednesday’s club meeting was absolutely wonderful and Ryan was a very informative speaker. I learnt a lot more about wine making and had a very enjoyable evening. The wines were excellent, and not one that I was displeased with. Thank you for organizing it and a thank you to Ryan.”
“It was a great night! Ryan was not only knowledgeable and passionate, but very engaging and not too heavy for a Wednesday evening. His humour and humorous approach to his tasting notes and his anecdotal style were an ideal combination. Some of the wines too are definitely worth a bottle or several”
“Please can I adopt him!”
Read more about the Upton Village tasting on their very own blog.
One of my favorite reviews came from a customer who wasn’t totally converted on our wines. You have to realize I’m one of the most expensive wines on Naked, and people really need a good reason to spend an extra 3 or 5 quid on a bottle of wine. It has to be really special. Well, one of the Angels had tasted our wine on its own and he only liked it as much as his other favorites on the site (which are less costly). But our tasting on Lake Windemere allowed him to taste some of his favorites side by side with my wines. And he had one of those aha moments! There’s something to those O’Vineyards wines that makes them just a little different than the new world fruit bombs. There’s something to it! Hard to pinpoint! Well, it was a very nice comment.
Why only 2 stops?
Because that’s all that we found. I tried to do a thing near Edinburgh but it didn’t work out. Most likely because it wasn’t a Naked Wines customer and thus much harder to communicate and motivate. The Angels at Naked Wines are the best. I hope next year we can line up 3 or 4 village tastings. Make it a more legit tour. If you think you can get some people together for a wine tasting next year, let me know! I’d love to explore more of rural England.
Will I do it again?
Yes. On the one hand, I had a lot of fun. Lake Windemere was gorgeous. A geology that, in some ways, reminds me of the south of France. But with a lot more grass and sheep. Presumably, way more rain too, but we had considerably sunny days. The beer was also delicious. Great pubs. Cool experience. Good company. Upton, the village in Oxfordshire, was also beautiful and the group of 40+ people at the village tasting had a lot of fun going through my wines and a couple wines from Benjamin Darnault. I also got to spend a day in Oxford, checked out some of the sights and popped into the Ashmolean. A big thanks to Ivy and Doug for being such wonderful hosts in the Lake District. And a big thanks to my hosts and chauffeurs, Frankie and Kevin Jacklin, who made the whole trip a delight. So I would absolutely do this again because it was a lot of fun.
It also doesn’t hurt to mention the spike in sales on Naked Wines. Naked ran a promotion on a mixed case of my wines right before I came to the UK, selling 50 cases of 6 bottles at a discounted rate. And on top of those 300 bottles, Naked sold another 1600£ of my wines at full price this month. They have some pretty intense cashback offers, so it’s hard to pin down an exact number of pounds that changed hands, but the point is that this vacation of mine was very interesting financially. And my Reserve which comes in at a whopping 30.99£ on the site is rated a 4.8/5 That’s a big deal for this customer base that is VERY value-conscious and very demanding at higher prices.
There’s also talk of the Upton Village Club taking a big trip to my vineyard one day! That could be a lot of fun too!
This is the second part of a series on O’Vineyards wine tastings we held in the UK this year. You can read about the first part in my post about the Languedoc Outsiders Tasting in London.