Who’s The Boss? Gorey Wine Cellar

Gorey Wine Cellar

With dry January over what better way to kickstart your February tipple with a new Who’s the Boss? The feature where we introduce and highlight a local business boss, for our fourth instalment, we have decided to switch things up and give Laura a break from this one and let myself take the reins.

Gorey Wine Cellar is an intimate space that stocks over 350 wines located in St Martin with a charismatic and friendly character behind it, Matt Barnes. A relatively new wine spot for Jersey with other more established competitors in the market, Gorey Wine Cellar differentiates its self by providing a more personal and welcoming atmosphere that myself and Laura have appreciated from our first visit. Even for us newbies and especially myself who knows more about hops than grapes, Matt has always been very helpful when it comes to picking and suggesting something new which becomes very useful when trying to find wines to gift or drink ourselves.
We find out more about how Gorey Wine Cellar came to be and the man behind the wines.
1. You lived in Sydney for 10 years, what made you want to return back to Jersey and start a new business?

We absolutely loved living ‘Down Under’; we had a daughter in 2008 and by 2014 we thought ‘well, either we stay for good or we go back to Jersey’. Given that our daughter is an only child, with a large family in Jersey, we decided it was the right thing to do. I immediately began looking around for opportunities and came across Gorey Wine Co. which was owned by an old family friend.

2. Why the interest in wine?

I’ve spent most of my life in hotels & catering. My last few years in Australia were spent managing a fantastic wine shop in Palm Beach (Northern Beaches) and I loved it.

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a business within an already well-established market in Jersey?

I don’t think there are many markets in Jersey that aren’t well-established (finance, catering, building, IT, journalism…) so the same rules apply: find a product or service that people want, at a reasonable price, and make sure you have a point of difference vis-à-vis your competition. It’s not easy and not always very profitable so make sure you really love what you do before you jump in!

4. Did you encounter any obstacles when taking over Gorey Wine Company Ltd and how did you deal with these?

Nearly two years after taking over the business I still get lots of people saying “I never knew you existed” (the business has been around in various forms since 1968!)

I started with around 90 wines and have increased the range to over 400 but most people are creatures of habit and to persuade someone to buy their wine somewhere ‘new’ takes a lot of effort.

5. Branding can be challenging to get right. We love the way you have rebranded as Gorey Wine Cellar what was the inspiration behind creating this new identity?

My preference is for simplicity (I’m not at all artistic so the simpler the better!)

6. People can be set in their ways when it comes to their favourite wines, how do you entice them to try something new?

Either by encouraging them to taste something different (I organise tastings throughout the year and I always open a bottle or two in the shop every Saturday) or simply by recommending a wine that I believe is particularly good value.

7. What is the best way to introduce and suggest wines to a novice like myself to try?

I’m afraid you need to start drinking more wine! You need to find out what your personal preference is by tasting lots of different wines from different countries. I find it very hard to describe wine to people – we all have different palates and sometimes words aren’t enough; imagine for example trying to describe the taste of a Barolo to someone who has never had it before.

8. Everyone has their golden rules for wine and food pairings, what’s your take on this?

There are some sensible pairing ‘rules’ that enhance the flavours of both the food and the wine, but my advice is: drink whatever wine you personally enjoy.

9. Where is your favourite place to unwind and enjoy a meal and drink out in Jersey?

Banjo is a favourite in winter; El Tico in summer and Oyster Box for special occasions.

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