The Irish Wine Trade from 1991-2021

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After 30 years working in the wine trade in Ireland, I have enormous respect for those working on the coal face.  Those individuals who put in the graft and in some cases travel the long miles (literally).  My focus is on the marketing, PR and promotion of wine but I know the real work is done by the thousands of people enduring arduous work to sell wine.

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Pictured: from left:  Jim McCabe, McCabes Wine Merchants, McCabes Wine Fair 2002; David Power RIP, Edward Dillon & Co and Wine Development Board, an amazing educator who taught so many people about wine, pictured at Wine 95, the first consumer wine fair;  Michael Simpson RIP, Edward Dillon & Co, at Wine 95;  Noel Tymlin Grants of Ireland (later Findlater & Co) now retired, promotes Sutter Home; Margaret Breski, La Cave Wine Bar, at South African Wine Fair, 2002; Terry Pennington, Woodford Bourne (now Santa Rita Europe), Jean Smullen and Colin Sullivan Irish Distillers (now 10 International) date unknown;  Philomena Smythe, Jean Smullen, Catherine Keegan, Simon Keegan (Sommelier) and Niall Finn, Higgins Off Licence at Chile Wrap Party at Taste of Dublin 2007;  1999 Diploma Graduation Ceremony, between 1987 and 1999 a total of 105 students graduated with the WSET Dip in Ireland. At the Diploma graduation awards night in 1999 many past alumni attended. Catherine Day at Dublin Bay Wine Experience,  2013;  Christine Smith, Mackenway DistributorsDavid Ward, Barry & Fitzwilliam, Chilean Wine Fair 2015; Julie Dupouy Young comes 3rd in the ASI World Sommelier Competition in Argentina in 2016, pictured with the Irish Guild of Sommeliers CommitteeOliver Murtagh RIP, Paul Young and Andy O’Gorman RIP;  Frank & Catherine Harrison working at Australian Tutored Tasting, Hilton Hotel, 2016;  John McDonnell Wine Australia (centre) with Peter Corr (right) at Taste of Dublin 2010; Averil Johnson JN Wine and Barry Geoghegan, Findlater W&S (now working for Barry Global Innovation) (date unknown) Cassidy Wine team, including Amanda Cardiff (right), Chilean Wine Fair, 2015;  Lorna Rouse, Marketing Manager Febvre & Co (now working for United Wines) at TOD Wrap Party 2007; Mary O’Callaghan, IGS & Ann Mullin Wine on Line at Australian Immersion, 2017; Monica Murphy, Febvre & Co (now retired) at Italian Wine Dinner at the Italian Ambassador’s residence in Lucan in 2009;  Willie Dardis, Ampersand and  Fergal Tynan MW Alliance Wine MD at New Zealand ATT, 2012; Frank Kineen, The Vineyard Wine Co, Galway and Tony Keeling, Stoop Your Head, Skerries at the Chilean Wine Fair, 2015;  Dennis Byrne, The Burnaby Greystones and Niav McNamara, Clontarf Wines at Australian Masterclass, 2017;  Albert Baginski, Solera Wine Merchants presents Argentine Malbec Masterclass, April 2019.


There are many different sectors of the industry facilitating this.  From the importing companies’ representatives who travel all over the country selling to the key customers in both the on and off trade, to those individuals working in the service industry who endure long hours of back-breaking work.  I have stood in supermarkets and off licences promoting wines and watched while off license staff deal with all facets of human life who walk in the door.  I’ve seen them packing wines on shelves and making sure those shelves are never empty.  I’ve also seen the restaurant, bar, wine bar, pub and nightclub staff working in a physically demanding environment, often really late into the evening. Not only do they all put in those long physical hours but then they show up at the wine fairs to taste and sample the new wines.  They embark on wine courses and go the extra mile to support all those events, in order to keep their knowledge level up to par.

The marketing teams working for the importers and who build the brands with their concepts and ideas.  The merchandisers who make sure that brand material is in the right place and with the right visibility.  The warehouse staff who dispatch the orders, the van drivers who make the deliveries, all of these are the unsung heroes of the wine industry in Ireland.

So why do we all do it?  It’s a labour of love mostly, the camaraderie, the friendships, the trips to visit wine regions, the nights out enjoying the wine, these are all the high points.  The hard physical work,the  long hours, the stress of dealing with the public are the low ones.  After 30 years in the trade, many of those I have met and worked with have made my world a better place,  I’m happy to say I’ve also enjoyed many a glass of wine with a lot of them!

Pictured are a few of the amazing people who have made the Irish wine trade what it is today.  I wish I could have included a LOT more photos, but I only have limited space.  To everyone I say, THANK YOU for all the years of support, particularly for the wine events I organise.  Some of those photographed are sadly no longer with us, but I salute you all for the hard work, the great memories and most important the fun times we have had along the way.


Sean Mitchell

Author at Pynck

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