Strong core values and principles propel us, as does a desire to grow and improve. We know it’s not a walk in the park but we never give up on our quest to share our diverse and hugely innovative portfolio of wine with as many people as possible. We travel the world to meet and present to importers; we exhibit at wine fairs and tastings around the globe; we invite our customers to our head office as well as our homes in France, Italy, South Africa and the UK. And we consistently strive to keep our selection of wines as relevant, interesting and commercial as possible for our customers, all the while maintaining the absolutely paramount level of quality and value for money that we’ve become so well known for.
Our wines can now be found in 40 countries. We have colleagues on three continents. At all times, the focus is on the customer, making them part of the Boutinot family, ensuring their experience with us is always a pleasant one and making sure our wines continue to over deliver for them and their own customers.
Our journey has taught us a lot. We’ve got to know different markets, geography, intricacies of working in different countries, laws, labels, wine and above all people. We’ve got to know ourselves – about the energy, tenacity, dedication and resilience it takes to succeed. We’ve come to rely on each other, especially our team back at base when we’re in one of the four corners of the world. But we’ve also got to know our customers too; many we’re now proud to call friends, building relationships over many years. In fact, over 90% of the customers who’ve chosen to work with us in the last 15 years are still with us today.
This is a story about a journey. Yes it’s a tale about wine, but also about people, places and what we’ve learnt about ourselves and others along the way. We’d like to say we had an elaborate business plan to build an International division, but we didn’t. What transpired was an opportunity or two that seemed too good not to seize.
Back in 1997, faced with a rather exorbitant bill for an exhibition stand, we figured that we could hire a helicopter for half the price. Meeting our customers on the stand of one of our friendly producers, we flew them to a négociant in Bordeaux – of which we owned 50% – where we shared our wines and good conversation. Many of our customers both old and new joined us; and it just so happened that one or two of them happened to be international ones, and they seemed to be somewhat interested in what we could offer. It opened our eyes to an untapped market: Boutinot International!
Over the past 20 years we have moved on from communicating by fax and navigating roads by paper map, we still get horribly lost sometimes but we are able to visit our customers more regularly and continue to travel far and wide as a team. It is still really great fun, most of all because we see the world as one massive market of untapped potential – a place to grow and expand and learn, brimming with possibility and opportunities despite the challenges we all face in the Wine industry. As we said, we never set out to build an international business, but it’s certainly building us.