Our story starts in 1972 and Paul Boutinot, having had a brief flirtation with shifting half a tonne of bricks up and down a ladder, decided the glamour of the building industry wasn’t for him.
Paul quickly got into something else: wine.
After five years learning his trade in London, he headed back up north to Greater Manchester to join his father’s successful restaurant business. Frustrated with the quality of wine that could be sourced in the UK, Paul took matters into his own hands. He hired a van, trundled over to France, picked up some wine (it was legal back then) and sold it back in his parents’ restaurant.
Soon other restauranteurs asked Paul to supply them too. And, having decided that working in the family business was only marginally less painful than being a bricklayer’s mate, he went into the wine business for real. Boutinot Wines was born in the wine hot spot of Stockport in 1980.
Fruity German wines were all the rage back then but Paul started with France, because that’s what he knew. He was convinced that you didn’t need to follow the latest trends and that if he offered really good wines at fair prices, there would be a market. In many ways, it’s a philosophy that still rings true for us today.
Personally selecting the wines from France, back in the UK he would unload the trailer by hand. And deliver the crates of wines to customers himself. But good things grow and by the end of the decade we had become a bigger and better company. A company that not only sought out great wines but made them too.
By the mid-nineties Paul had sold and bought back the business and in doing so joined forces with one Dennis Whiteley (centre – our current MD). Dennis, who’d originally seen Boutinot as a passing acquaintance en route to becoming the managing director of a FTSE 100 plc by the time he was 35, fell in love with the business. More than that, he fell in love with the people. And so he stayed.
Shortly afterwards, having made his escape from an abattoir and the world of pigs, Michael Moriarty (bottom) joined the business. His commercial acumen formed a great counter to the big dreaming of Paul and Dennis. Their formidable business partnership and firm friendship formed the cornerstone of the eventual management buyout in 2013, along with expert Tony Brown (top – one of our two in-house Masters of Wine, Italian wine fanatic and erstwhile jobbing gardener).
It’s not just this shared passion for people that makes us different but our total and unwavering belief that making great entry-level wines is bloody difficult, but we do it bloody well. We’ve been doing it for quite some time now.
As well as dedicated teams in the UK, France, South Africa and the USA, our people are all over the world covering areas such as Canada, China, south east Asia and the whole of Europe.
150 of the world’s best producers trust us to represent their wines, and we’ve proudly maintained some of those relationships for decades. We’re constantly on the hunt for new and interesting people to work with who share our values and philosophy about great wine, refreshing our portfolio and bringing newness to customers.
But we’re not just agents, we’re hands-on, ‘dirt under our nails’ winemakers too. We have a partnership with a co-operative in Italy, two vineyards in France, a farm in South Africa, and an English garden vineyard.
Today, Boutinot Wines is one of the leading UK-based distributors of quality wines from around the world. Our portfolio consists of over 1600 wines and we sell more than 44 million bottles each year. Every bottle we sell we’d be more than happy to take home and drink ourselves, which we do. It helps to have strong arms at Boutinot.