A friend came back from an eastern European holiday raving about the long-lost wines of Moldova. Wines so powerfully, hauntingly delicious, they could make a glass eye weep. When our friend asked the growers why their ambrosial wines were not available in the UK, he was told our big retailers didn’t want them. The UK consumer, it was alleged, had neither the time nor the inclination to wrap their tongues round a grape name like Rara Neagra, so in this varietal-driven world the more commercially minded were grubbing their native grapes to make way for Merlot, or other so-called ‘international’ grapes like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. It got us thinking. A rare, native, fascinating being gets driven to the margins or the verge of extinction by an ubiquitous, non-native, humdrum so-and-so. See where we’re going here…?
Red Squirrel Wine started out in summer 2012 as a brother and sister team in Richmond, Surrey. We spent almost all of our time sourcing, always with two eyes on the conservationist brief of rare and unusual grapes and lesser-known regions. Our first and longest-standing customers were and are family and friends, who put up with our enthusiastic bombardments with good grace. Remarkably, people we’d never heard of began placing orders in autumn 2012. Things sort of snowballed from there.
These days we work out of offices Chiswick in west London and are now a full-time team of three, still doing very much the same: avid sourcing of the very best, most out-of-the-ordinary wines, with a jolly big smile on our face.
Whether at our events, dinners, pop-ups, our online shop or our Winebox subscription, we serve a wide range of people young and old across Britain who are looking for something a bit different: in a wine merchant and in the wines they drink.
What about our wines?
Our first overseas sourcing trip was to the lesser-known Italian region of Liguria in August 2012. We returned laden with the region’s finest Pigato and Rossese. Our next stop was closer to home, one of West Sussex’s lesser-known vineyards. Since then we’ve made around 3-4 trips a year looking for new wines, on top of meeting winegrowers themselves travelling to the UK.
We import directly from vineyards Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Australia, as well as our very own shores. We also carefully source out-of-the-ordinary wines from some of Britain’s best specialist importers.
Above all, our wines are chosen as they’ve always been chosen: are they red squirrels, or grey squirrels?
Where to find us
Red Squirrel Wine The Barley Mow Centre 10 Barley Mow Passage Chiswick London W4 4PH
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