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Artisan Wines Cease Trading

I’m sorry to have to report that one of my favourite merchants, Artisan Wines, has been forced to cease trading.

Other demands on the time of proprietor Andrew Kerr has forced Andrew into making the difficult decision to close down the operation. In Andrew’s words “We’ve come to the conclusion that we need to put Artisan Wines on the back burner for a year or two as, at the moment, we don’t have enough time to devote to it.” Perhaps the troubled economy has also played its part; despite recent good news about the average spend per bottle going up in the UK (more people than ever are spending over £10 per bottle it seems) maintaining sales of esoteric natural, organic and biodynamic wines in an online-only part-time operation must be a very trying occupation.

Clos Rougeard - bought from Artisan Wines

This is a great shame; although Andrew ran this online retail business in his spare time, sourcing and importing the wines himself, it was a professional operation and it was a valuable source of wines from some of the Loire’s greatest names, not least Clos Rougeard, Domaine de Bellivière, Ferme de la Sansonnière, Domaine de l’Ecu and others, as well as a selection of wines of similar quality from the Rhône. Although naturally, for me, it was the Loire that was the major interest here.

Now that Andrew has taken his website down (www.artisanwines.co.uk now returns a ‘disabled’ message) sadly I fear this is the last we will see of Artisan Wines. Nevertheless I sincerely hope Andrew does indeed return to retail, for purely selfish reasons (a reliable source of Clos Rougeard can be hard to find!) and if I have any news on sale of stock, or an Artisan revival, naturally I will post it here.

4 Responses to “Artisan Wines Cease Trading”

  1. As you say, Chris, “maintaining sales of esoteric natural, organic and biodynamic wines in an online-only part-time operation must be a very trying occupation.” And you’re damn right it is. Although I am no longer (technically speaking) part-time (I took a redundancy package last year from my day job) I am still some way off actually making a living from the wine trade.

    It is one thing having an esoteric list, receiving good reviews in the wine media, having happy customers and even having some of those erstwhile customers posting favourable comments on message boards and blogs. But turning favourable “press” into favourable sales figures is an entirely different thing. 95% of all wine drinkers buy from the supermarkets and I can only assume that a majority of the remaining 5% buy from the large independents. That doesn’t leave much for the rest of us. 🙁

    I must admit that there are days (yesterday was one of them) when I wonder why I ever got into the wine business in the first place. Thankfully, today is another day, and positivity has returned……… for the time being, at least. 😉

    Sorry to hear about Artisan Wines.

  2. Leon, thanks for that post, it provides a valuable insight into the difficulties of running a small independent merchant. I’m not surprised to hear it is not a path to wonderful riches, and I have more empathy with your situation that you might imagine. Winedoctor takes up a huge amount of my time, and I have masses of vistors – more unique visitors per month than decanter.com (I know this as the monthly figures were proudly revealed by Sarah Kemp at the Decanter World Wine Awards – and mine are 50% higher) and yet despite all the content read daily the revenue is close to nothing. It’s a worse business model than wine retail! And I have those days – like your yesterday – when I wonder why as well. Having passion is one thing, but sometimes it just isn’t enough….

    I’m delighted to hear that your business is a bigger part of your life now, I can see your list has expanded somewhat since I last looked. Best of luck with sales. Hopefully you should have some good support from the UK Wine Forum where I know you (and surely your wines) are followed and appreciated. Keep at it!

  3. Thanks for your kind words, Chris. I in turn know that your own particular model is pretty different from most of the others in your sector. In fact, yours is probably as much (if not more) a labour of love as mine!

  4. Keep smiling, guys – you know you’re appreciated!


    ps not officially back from holidays, so yesterday was kind to me!