Happy Birthday Cellar Door Wines
In 2004, after years of thought and planning, brothers Miles and Peter Lilliott left their senior city jobs and opened independent wine merchant Cellar Door Wines on the Verulam Industrial Estate in St Albans. With boutique wine making and viticulture already being a family business in Hunter Valley, Australia, they decided that their goal should be to source great quality, affordable wine from around the globe. They would offer their trade and retail customers friendly, unpretentious advice and service. Their hard work paid off and in 2008 Cellar Door Wines was named Independent Wine Retailer of the Year in the Drinks Retailing Association Awards. The business weathered the 2008 financial crisis, but in January 2011 tragedy struck when Miles died very suddenly. Peter continued to run the shop until 2017 when he recruited Penny Edwards, a local wine expert, with many years of wine retail experience. With hard work and investment, together they built a new brand for Cellar Door Wines, bringing in a much wider and premium range of new and exciting wines and spirits, together with complementary boutique and locally sourced delicatessen products.
By 2018 the physical and online shops had been refurbished and Cellar Door once again became a wine lover’s paradise, complete with a tasting area and enomatic wine dispensing machines which always have 16 wines on taste. They encourage customers to explore new wines, develop their taste buds and push their boundaries. The wines in store are organised by style (Bold, Fruity, Silky, Crisp, Aromatic and Rich) rather than by country or grape variety to help move customers away from safe ‘supermarket’ brands.
Penny travels regularly to source wines from smaller, family owned producers for the bespoke wine club cases which are sent out monthly or quarterly to subscribers. Italy, South Africa and organic viticulture are her favourite wine subjects. In 2020, when COVID hit, Penny and Peter adapted again, by improving their website offering and increasing their local and national delivery capabilities. The winemaker and producer masterclasses that used to take place regularly in the beautiful store, then started to happen weekly online and Penny discovered a new skill in virtual wine tasting facilitation!
In June 2022 they opened a new store in the beautiful grounds of Hatfield Park, in the Stable Yard at Hatfield House. The stunning setting was host to several grand themed themed tastings in the shop, outside in The Stable Yard as well as in the Riding School and Old Palace. Highlights included a Wines of South Africa Summer extravaganza, Wine Tasting and Tango celebrating Argentine World Malbec Day in April 2023 and a Christmas Tasting in November 2023 show casing 200 wines from 25 different winemakers and producers.
2023 brought a series of financial hiccups for the business with the true cost of Brexit becoming a reality, the cost of living crisis hitting hard and the government's hefty duty increase coming into play in August 2023. Once again, Cellar Door Wines survived another tough year, thanks to the support of many loyal, longstanding and new wine loving customers.
In January 2024, Peter, Penny and the team remember Miles for his positive attitude and willingness to work hard in a business that he was passionate about and wanted to succeed.
Who knows what the next 20 years will add to their wine tale?