An innovative wine company has become the first Scottish firm to win the sector’s most prestigious award.
Ayrshire-based Alliance Wine collected the UK Agent of the Year prize at the recent International Wine Challenge Merchant Awards – the UK’s foremost wine competition.
Alliance Wine beat competitors from across the UK to win the sought-after Agent of the Year title, at a glittering ceremony in London’s Park Lane Hilton hotel. The firm also collected an award for a wine it produces exclusively for Marks & Spencer.
The annual ceremony is one of the most important in the wine calendar, recognising the achievements of the world’s best producers, importers and distributors.
Giles Cooke MW, Buying & Marketing Director at Alliance, said: “No Scottish company has won this until now. It is one of the blue-riband awards and always goes to London-based firms, because that is where the power lies in the UK wine industry.
“With this win we have flipped that old order on its head in terms of profile and we are delighted to be flying the flag for Scotland.
“The IWC Awards are the pinnacle of the international wine industry and there is always fierce competition for the top prizes. To be named UK agent of the year is a tremendous honour and a real testament to the hard work of all of our staff.”
Alliance Wine also won the Great Value Champion White Wine award for its Moonbridge Riesling wine – produced at its Australian subsidiary facility and sold exclusively by Marks & Spencer.
It beat tens of thousands of wines from around the world. In addition, the firm was announced as runner-up in the On Trade Supplier of the Year category.
Giles added: “To also win the Great Value Champion White Wine for Moonbridge Riesling is a tremendous achievement. Considering there are more than 10,000 individual wines that are considered for this award, it shows just how good our product is.
“Our Australian company only launched in 2006, and it has shipped 80,000 cases to the UK this year. The recognition for Moonbridge puts us firmly in the spotlight and lets the world know we are doing a great job from Adelaide.”
While its headquarters and most of its 49 staff are in Beith, Ayrshire, Alliance Wine also has a sales office in London and is pursuing further opportunities in the world’s wine producing areas to build on the success of its Australian division.
“We’re a proudly Scottish-based company and these awards highlight the strides we have taken in the last couple of years. We’ve changed the focus of the business so that, rather than concentrating on purely on-trade, we now incorporate distributors and independent retailers – which has led to 17% growth across the business.
“We’re passionate about wine and passionate about the business of wine and none of our competitors in Scotland or the rest of the UK offer as comprehensive a service as we do.
“Not only do we have an excellent portfolio, we’re the only company to employ two Masters of Wine, so it is very pleasing this expertise has been recognised.”
Alliance Wine was founded in 1984 as a bespoke company servicing the needs of the pubs, restaurants and hospitality clients across Scotland. That remains the main focus of the Scottish operation.
However, the company has developed into one of the UK’s leading producers, importers and distributors of premium wines with a portfolio of 1200 wines from 14 countries.
In 2010 Alliance Wine launched an ambitious education programme for Scotland’s on-trade professionals, targeted at aspiring business leaders, sommeliers and proprietors.
The Alliance Wine MW Masterclass programme is run by the firm’s two Masters of Wine - Giles Cooke and Fergal Tynan – and provides the most interactive and in-depth education sessions for the UK’s wine industry.
The firm’s previous IWC Awards wins include the Scottish Regional Merchant of the Year title and the Specialist Merchant for Australia award in 2007.
More information can be found on the website www.alliancewine.co.uk.