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 to miss.
Boutinot Ltd. was founded in 1980 by Paul Boutinot. During the 1970s, Paul was frustrated by the quality level of wines available in the UK to sell in his parents’ restaurant, so took matters into his own hands. Once he started importing for them, other restauranteurs wanted his help too, and Boutinot Ltd. was born.
A few years later (1997 to be exact), faced with a rather exorbitant bill for an exhibition stand, we worked out that we could hire a helicopter for half the price. After meeting our customers on one of our friendly producer’s stands, we flew them to a négociant in Bordeaux (of which we owned 50%) where we shared our wines and good conversation. Customers, both old and new, joined us; it just so happened to be that one or two of them were international customers, and they seemed to be interested in what we could offer. It opened our eyes to an unexplored market: Boutinot International!
Since then we have moved on from communicating by fax and navigating roads by paper map. We still get horribly lost sometimes, but we can visit our customers more regularly and continue to travel far and wide as a team. It is still 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.
Our wines can now be found in over 40 countries and 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, geographies, intricacies of working in different countries, laws, labels, wine and, above all, people. We’ve got to know ourselves, and 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.
It’s not just this shared passion for people that makes us different. We also firmly believe that although making great entry-level wines is really difficult, we do it really well. We’ve been doing it for quite some time now, as well.
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.
Strong core values and principles propel us, as does a desire to grow and improve. We know it’s not always easy, 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. Moreover, 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. Every bottle we sell we would be more than happy to take home and drink ourselves, which we do. It helps to have strong arms at Boutinot.Meet the Team