In just under an hour, at 10 am London time, we will announce the winners of our indies competition in celebration of the the special qualities of independent wine merchants around the globe: the winning wine retailer and the winning writer. But first, for our final entry to be published, Deborah Hughes flies across the pond to visit her favourite wine merchant.
Like many overseas visitors I first came across this wonderful place whilst on holiday, I must admit that year I didn't venture in. My opinion of wine merchants was built on the stern façade of many an old English wine merchant or at least my perceived view of them.
Though, for some reason I couldn't forget the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, from the outside it did look a lot different than what I'd expected a wine merchant to look like, it had no door and was open to all that walked by. The layout too looked interesting and the tasting / bar area did indeed appear inviting. So by my next trip I was determined to make a visit.
A year or so later, stood on the threshold, I ventured in. To my surprise nobody pounced on me demanding to know what I was doing there and did I have enough knowledge or money to purchase these fine wines. Instead, I was met with a genuine friendly welcome and encouragement to ask questions. The wines, oh the wines, so much choice, it felt like being a teenager and instead of a friend selecting tunes you might like for a mix tape, this friend had selected wines you might love and they are excited for you to explore.
Shelves, bins and racks of wine so carefully chosen and labelled so clearly and understandably, all designed to help and guide you through your little wine adventure. Then wandering into the wine bar which is fully part of this place you get to know the real FPWM, that first real visit sitting watching the world go by with a wine list that felt handpicked with care to select from was such a revelation.
Falling hook line and sinker for this inspiring place, returning time and time again during our trips to San Francisco, I've been lucky enough to taste and buy the most delicious wines and spent more time there than planned. I've sat with family and friends not only enjoying the wine, I've also learnt so much from the team, who never undervalue their customers or patronise them. I've seen senior political figures through to tourist (just like me on my first visit) there and met amazing wine makers, both new and established. I've even gone as far as selecting and booking a hotel based on its proximity to the FBWM. Not only do I leave there with the best possible wine, I take away knowledge freely given by the team and it's given me the confidence to visit wine merchants in the UK. Guess what, I was wrong, most are not stern or snobbish, they are welcoming and enthusiastic.
Thank you Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.