ViVAS, the 3663 wine business, works with the Priory Arms in Stockport, London, and with the Cross Keys in Henley to devise improved wine lists that better complement their food.
THE PRIORY ARMS
Graham Bulpett from the Priory Arms in Stockwell, south London, worked closely with Julie Fontaine, ViVAS customer development manager, to update and relaunch his pub's wine menu.
He hosted a wine tasting with Fontaine's help to introduce customers to the revamped wine list.
"We tasted the entire wine list and used the event to launch our new balcony area that I'd added to the pub," says Bulpett. "The Austrian Singing Grüner Veltliner wine was the star of the evening and some of the other blends, such as the Pinot Noir/Zinfandel, were very well received. Julie guided guests through the list of 24 wines and created a sociable environment, encouraging them to be honest and open with their views on the range.
"She also set time aside to explain the wine list to our staff, giving them some handy background information on origins and how that will impact the flavour of wines as part of a quick education. She also demonstrated to them how a basic wine knowledge could help them when they faced an indecisive customer.
"Julie feels like a member of our team rather than a supplier and her knowledge and enthusiasm created a feelgood factor on the night of the tasting that you can't buy. I'm really pleased with the final wine list and I think what I've learnt from the experience is to keep an open mind and accept guidance.
"Advertising is also very important to the success of an event. We promoted ours extensively in the pub and in the local newspaper.
"I've benefited from working with ViVAS. It's nice to be in touch with a company that has good communications - Julie is great to work with, deliveries are on time and there have been no mistakes. It's a smooth operation."
THE CROSS KEYS
When Mark White at the Cross Keys in Henley overhauled his decor, food menu and wine list, he worked closely with ViVAS to create a wine offering that could stand independently or complement his food.
Elaine Horne from ViVAS assisted Mark by hosting wine tasting and tutoring sessions with staff to ensure they knew all about the new wines. All of the activity focused on educating the team so that they could easily up-sell and provide customers with good, solid advice.
Horne says: "Mark's feedback on our work has been positive. Since working with him, his food and wine offer has improved, sales have increased and we've heard encouraging feedback from customers about the changes in the Cross Keys.
"Over time we've won Mark's trust and as our suggestions have helped his business this trust has strengthened. A good relationship between a supplier and customer is always important and it's our job to give Mark ideas and recommendations that will build his business and help him to achieve long-term success."
"ViVAS helped us to create a professionally presented wine list with short contemporary descriptions," adds White. "The team came in to do a wine tasting and tutoring session with our staff while we were closed for refurbishment. The staff were provided with some basic information but more importantly the training has allowed them to identify their own favourites that they are able to recommend with confidence."