Discovery Wines expands into Hamilton
Looking for organic gin, inexpensive Malbec, or wine accessories — Discovery Wines’ new Hamilton store has it all.
Discovery Wines opened a boutique store on the corner of Queen and Reid Streets in early December.
“It has been very successful so far,” said general manager of sales and operations, Simon Carruthers.
He stressed that the store is not a pop-up. In the last few years the location has been the site of a series of temporary seasonal stores, but Discovery is in it for the long haul.
The new store is clean and bright and wine is arranged mostly by region. High up on the walls are maps reflecting those regions, California, Argentina, New Zealand.
“Wine is really about geography,” Mr Carruthers said.
He said to fully appreciate a wine from say, Tuscany, you really need to eat something from that region.
If you don’t know exactly what they eat there, someone at Discovery will offer suggestions.
“The whole point of the store is education,” Mr Carruthers said. “It is very much about getting customers in to try new grape varieties from different regions. It is about really pushing their boundaries as opposed to just buying the standard bestseller. That is what we’re about.”
Two years ago, Burrows & Lightbourn Ltd bought Discovery from Bermudian David Butterfield, who started it in 2006 to showcase wines he was making in France.
“I joined the company on May 1, 2018,” said Mr Carruthers, who was previously at Gosling’s. “We knew we wanted to grow it.”
In November they expanded their warehouse space on Bakery Lane, Pembroke and turned it into retail space.
The hope is also that the Hamilton store will increase interest in the Bakery Lane site, which has a wider selection of products, and more space for wine tastings and corporate events.
Jonny Leadley, the general manager, said the Hamilton store’s busiest times have been the lunch period and the late afternoon when customers are on their way home.
“People are generally looking to pick up between one and four bottles, for the next two or three days,” Mr Leadley said. “I think people shop on a more regular basis. They don’t do one big shop so much any more, and they shop in multiple destinations.”
To heighten interest, Discovery has a wine club with 300 members, and a gin club with 60 members and growing.
“The biggest trend we’ve seen on the market so far would be the craft gins,” Mr Carruthers said. “We have close to 30 gins now from all over the world. The Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin from the Warner Edwards Distillery in the UK is the most popular. We have a new one from them as well we’re going to be releasing called Harrington Honeybee Gin.
“Many years ago, there were a lot of artificial flavours and artificial sweeteners in gin. Now there is an organic farming movement. The distilleries are trying to use the biodiversity of farming. They are making their own honey, and growing their own botanicals to make the gin. Victoria’s Rhubarb has 250 millilitres of fresh squeezed rhubarb juice in every bottle.”
Their craft beers are also popular with customers.
“We have six different Anima beers from Italy,” Mr Carruthers said.
They can be bought as single bottles or in packs. You can buy one of six different flavours, take them home and try them.
They’re confident their service and boutique appeal make them stand out from the competition.
Mr Carruthers thinks one of their advantages is that Discovery brings in many of their products in small quantities. If the product doesn’t work out they can move on to the next thing, easily.
Mr Leadley said the typical Discovery customer varies from someone who wants a quick $14 bottle of wine to take home for dinner, to someone who wants a $300 Burgundy.
“We’re not trying to focus exclusively on the affluent,” Mr Leadley said. “It’s about looking at different customer profiles.”
“The key to the business is that there is something in here for everyone,” Mr Carruthers said.
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