Did you know that Hawkesbury Stores’ new wine selection is curated by an internationally renowned wine judge who lives in the village? Emma Roberts talks to Stores’ volunteer Jane Shepley about her career as a global wine merchant, the multi-million pound deal she closed over a pint of lager, and the exciting wines she’s bringing to Hawkesbury Stores.
A career in wine
Inspired by the extensive wine cellar at the house of a childhood friend, Emma Roberts bypassed her intended career in law because she “thought being a wine merchant looked like fun”.
So, after graduating with Latin and Greek from University in 1996, she landed a job as a PA at Averys – “I told them I could type…I couldn’t”. Despite her lack of keyboard skills, the following two decades saw Emma’s ambition and skill take her to the heights of the international wine trade, becoming Global Fine Wines Director for Averys and Laithwaites in 2012.
This role came with extensive international travel and phenomenal budgets: “one year the prices for the new vintage of First Growth Bordeaux wines were released in the evening. I bought £3million worth of wine over the phone while sitting with a pint of Fosters at The Ship in Luckington!”
In 2014 Emma set up her own business as a consultant for a stream of prestigious clients, including Virgin Wines. Working from her cottage in Hawkesbury Upton, Emma uses her endless book of global contacts to connect growers, wine-makers, importers and merchants. She also manages the creation of new wine blends to suit her clients’ needs, sometimes literally walking the vineyards to select grapes and overseeing every part of the process from grape to glass.
Emma’s year has a certain rhythm. In April she tours the Chateaux of Bordeaux tasting that year’s vintage straight from the barrel. She might cover six or seven Chateaux each day for a week. In November, she repeats the process in Burgundy.
In between these tours you might find her on the other side of the world carrying out her duty as an International Wine Judge. This is a strict business; judges have to wear white coats and carry out blind tasting in complete silence, marking each wine for appearance, nose and palette. Emma says “if you’re really unlucky you could have 120 bottles of young Shiraz to judge. The tannins and the acid really get to you after a while. Two hundred wines in one sitting is my limit, then I have to start questioning my ability to taste anything properly.”
New wines at Hawkesbury Stores
Emma is now bringing her immense expertise to our community enterprise; creating and supplying a fantastic new wine list for Hawkesbury Stores. Ranging from £7.99 to £29.99, Emma’s current wine selection contains exciting picks from France and Spain, as well as New World wines.
Take the Finca de Ora Rioja – an easy drinking red priced at £8.99. Emma knows this vineyard well, and explains that it’s located in the lower part of the Rioja region. “The area is traditionally considered to be a lesser quality to those in Rioja Alta. But these guys have vineyards gifted with a unique geology and geography for the area. You wouldn’t think anything could grow there – it’s high, rugged and rocky. But they grow the two rarest grape varieties of Rioja to an exceptional standard. The posh winemakers from Rioja Alta are actually buying these wines to blend with their own to give greater depth and complexity!”
Hawkesbury Stores is proud of our partnership with local expert Emma, who grew up nearby and moved to the village in 1999. As a community-owned business we welcome input from local people, and are committed to showcasing local suppliers and producers.