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Who we are
Harlington Wine Limited
Harlington Wine is an import/export distribution company operating in the UK and overseas.
They own and run wine distribution companies Wines Unfurled (BtoC) and Harlington Wine (BtoB) providing a route to market to all distribution channels across the UK and potential roll out to other markets such as the USA using their extensive global portfolio of independent wine estate partners.
The Business Model
David and Jerome Harlington set up a modern wine distribution company fit to meet and exceed the expectations of producer and trading partnerships in the 21st Century.
To trade successfuly there needs to be ever closer partnerships between the upstream production side and downstream distribution side. Harlington believes that to be truly effective with major National Accounts and export markets the production and distribution sides of the business need to be inextricably linked. The distribution Company needs to be the central coordinator for all marketing, PR and sales activities within the markets they operate.
It is Harlington’s contention that those far sighted innovative companies that are willing and able to invest in expanding their zone of influence by using cutting edge technologies and modern business practices will be the ones that flourish once the economic climate improves.
Operates across all channels BtoB and BtoC
Harlington operates across all trade channels as efficiently as the largest players in the market. Being small means it can also work with niche wines in the direct to consumer sectors via its Wines Unfurled retail platform.
Business to Business BtoB – Harlington Wine
Real wine is sourced direct from independent producers located in many of the major wine producing regions and Harlington has exclusive distribution partnerships with them.
Wines are presented to discerning customers in the on and off trade sectors who then make them accessible to those who purchase on decisions of quality, provenance and character as well as merely on price.
The Company is becoming known and respected for filling the gaps in generic and often boring wine lists full of the same names.
Business to Consumer BtoC - Wines Unfurled
In addition to the core activity of distributing to both trade sectors the retail arm of the business trades as Wines Unfurled. Wines are presented to customers at wine tastings around the country backed by wine club membership and internet sales.
There is a wine centre at their Buckinghamshire offices offering the full portfolio of wines to taste on the premises or to purchase bottles to take home. The Wine Centre hosts a series of events throughout the year including regular tutored tastings and wine education courses.
It is important to spread risk and to be present in all trade channels each offering unique opportunities and threats. To be too reliant on a single channel is to relinquish control of the brand and can lead to downward pressure on price or worse can lead to a quick exit from the market with the single threat of a de-list.
Global Internet Wine Company, Eco packaging and Low Alcohol…
Having direct influence and control of the brand in all Countries and associated market channels is crucial to long term success but this level of influence is not an option that is open to most suppliers nor their distributor partners. The new direct to trade and direct to consumer platform developed by our partners in the USA is cutting edge and provides a unique opportunity to get ahead of the market.
New Eco packaging is being presented with potential to develop an “own brand” range.
Low Alcohol, working in partnership with producers to develop commercial offering.
Jerome Harlington – Buying / marketing / strategy / operations
David Harlington – Logistics / import / export
Virginia Rattigan – Finance
Alistair Cooper – Sales
Peter Davies – Wines Unfurled retail / website
Harlington Wine was established in August 2005 by Jerome and David Harlington.
David’s love of wine started when living in France in the early 1970’s. He delighted in finding the local table wine delivered on the doorstep along with the morning milk. He developed his appreciation of wine during a professional career of more than thirty years in the oil business when he was fortunate enough to live nearby many of the well known wine producing regions of the world. He shared his passion with others for finding top quality locally produced wines and was keen on supporting family growers undiscovered by the major UK wine importers.
From an early age, David’s enthusiasm for wine rubbed off on his son, Jerome, who worked at Chateau Val Joinis in Provence prior to a year’s placement at Bordeaux University. He also completed his University Dissertation in Wine. Then having spent three years picking up commercial business skills in a blue chip business environment, Jerome decided to pursue his own passion for wine by taking a post in 1998 with Majestic Wine. In 2000 Jerome moved to Mentzendorff, the fine wine importers and distributors of Champagne Bollinger, where he completed his Diploma in wines and spirits. He worked alongside some of the world’s most celebrated wine producers and Masters of Wine to become an accomplished manager of the company’s key accounts.
Although there has never been an easier time to purchase good quality wines, the limited space and range on Grocer’s shelves and restaurant wine lists has made it increasingly difficult to find those extra special wines that express the unique character of the regions from which they come.
Keen to pursue his passion to bring new and refreshing wines to market Jerome left Mentzendorff in July 2006 to work full-time on the new business to seek out up and coming family wine growers who make the best examples of wine in their region.
Jerome and David developed the business model and made extensive wine tours across all regions of France, Italy and Slovenia to build up the portfolio to having distribution partnerships with over fifty first class producers. They have been marketing the existing portfolio since May 2009.
In August 2009 Harlington Wine and Wines Unfurled moved to premises at Carter House on the Chilton Estate at the Chilton Business Centre, Buckinghamshire and this year have moved to Chetwode Barn on the Priory Estate, Buckinghamshire.
Harlington have been driven to adopt a company philosophy which they think compliments the convenience and value offerings of supermarkets. For those who have the time and yearning to return to an understanding of the quality and diversity of wine and food they offer an alternative. Their philosophy can best be described by looking at the principles of the Slow Food Movement - Good, Clean and Fair (see below)
They know that to find really exciting and new producers you can't sit-back and wait for them to knock at your door, you need to get out there and find them. Harlington spend a significant part of the year exploring emerging wine regions and also the most established regions seeking to work with producers whose wines reflect the unique character of the area and are the best example in a particular region. They are the exclusive distributors of most of the wines on the list and many have never previously been exported. More importantly they are friends as well as business partners with all their dedicated producers.
Most customers value the convenience of shopping in a supermarket where they can be confident of selecting and purchasing value for money wine along with the rest of their grocery shopping. The aim is to offer the discerning customer more insight into quality, food and wine pairings, and sustainable environmental issues by introducing them directly to the producer via wine tastings, web site blogs and vineyard visits. Their point of difference is to afford the customer with opportunities to compliment their everyday purchases with educational insight into wines and food pairing.
It is important to Harlington that their producers receive a fair price for their wines and through buying direct they remain competitive without squeezing their suppliers.
The producers are passionate to protect the unique attributes of their particular region and these characteristics are reflected in their wines. They all practice sustainable viticulture in their vineyards.
Packaging is 100% recyclable and they use the most efficient transportation methods including groupage shipments.
Unfortunately it appears that all alcoholic drinks (and abuse of them) have been clumsily lumped together. Harlington believe that the care and attention that has gone into producing their wines deserves a little more respect and that they are best enjoyed in moderation with food.
Slow Food Ethic
Harlington represent wine producers which espouse the Slow Food values, remembered in the three words “Good Clean and Fair”. Their wines are good; they taste delightful and have been produced by the wine makers with a passion for making the best wines they can. They are clean in the sense that the stewardship of their own vineyards and the care of their surroundings is paramount. Harlington is fair in the Fair Trade sense of the word as the producers gain a fair return for their wines and the customers feel they’re getting good value for money.
Jerome Harlington holds the Diploma in Wines and Spirits and has worked alongside some of the world's most celebrated wine producers and Masters of Wine. Recently, he has become aware that the increasing tide of simple factory wines is reducing the diversity of flavours and tastes available on the shelves. Indeed, his uncle, amateur wine sleuth Barry Staples, was saying that during his constant search for interesting wines he felt that “even in the specialist wine shops all wines were beginning to taste the same”.
Nowadays, the “flying wine makers” have the skill to blend wines to suit the tastes of their customers who are very thankful that good consistently tasting wines can be found in their favourite supermarkets and wine merchants. However, there is an acknowledged danger that wines are losing their local character. Marino Aldrighetti of Gamba, our wine producer with 14 hectares of vines in the Valpolicella Classico region, said recently that he had been approached by such a flying wine maker but this time he resisted the temptation to change the character of his wine to suit the average palate.
Wine and Food Pairing
Good wine works best with good food. Each of their producers is teeming with advice about the best food and wine pairings and not surprisingly, their favourite foods tend to be found locally to them. Harlington are very interested in finding local food pairings with their wines wherever their customers are. How many times have you returned from a holiday abroad with a bottle of wine and tried to repeat a marvellous food and wine matching experience with disastrous results?
It is also perhaps surprising to find that there are chefs in some prestigious restaurants who are passionate about sourcing their food from local suppliers but yet spend so little time researching their portfolio of wines. Harlington’s interest in the Slow Food movement is not accidental. It focuses on finding sources of good food locally and they were excited to find at the Ludlow Food and Drink Festival a range of foods produced local to Ludlow which perfectly matched their wines.
Branding and USP
Wines Unfurled has fashioned its style of business on the points of philosophy outlined above. To keep the message to customers clear and uncomplicated a clear brand has been adopted which concentrates on the unique selling point of identifying wine styles in terms of colour with the strap line:
A colourful take on wine
Wines Unfurled go out and discover unique, hand-crafted wines from independent vineyards. What they bring back to the UK, they group together using colour, making it simple for people to find wine they’re guaranteed to enjoy. This is unique. It’s also a great way to get people to try wines they’d otherwise never hear about. They can suggest food pairings to get the very best from your wine and the food you eat. And they do all of this one hundred percent ethically. It’s a colourful take on wine.
Granted, there has been a trend over recent years for certain retailers to categorise wines by style using colour and other techniques. Wines Unfurled were among the first to do this and what is unique is that they, via parent company Harlington Wine Limited, source and import their entire portfolio direct from vineyard offering an exclusive range of wines that are then grouped in a simple way for consumers to understand. This simple marketing BtoC cuts out all unnecessary costs in the supply chain and is in their view the future of wine supply.
Wines Unfurled also sell to non-wine specialist trade customers such as delis (BtoB). The approach is a similar one, to de-complicate wine, matching wine with the delis best selling foods, again using colour. This is a unique marketing approach in this sector. Non-wine specialists represent a strong sector for growth.